by: Sofía Valencia
What am I wearing tomorrow? Does this dress make me look fat? Do my clothes match? Are they in style? Do I look cute? These are the typical questions that the average teenager asks herself everyday. It is sad to think that teenage girls don’t have anything more interesting to think about in the morning. Once you realize this sad truth you start wondering why this happens. We have been raised in a society that enslaves women and I don’t mean enslave as in they make you work your fingers to the bone, but I mean that society puts extremely high expectations on girls. Media portrays women as beautiful, delicate and almost useless objects that men can manage as they please.
Media is a really dangerous tool because it creates social expectations and it can alter the way society thinks and behaves. The power an image has over us is overwhelming. Therefore, “When all you see is a body type that only two percent of the population has, it’s difficult to remember what is real and what’s reasonable to expect of yourself and everyone else.” Television, movies, advertising everything in our visual culture portrays an image of women that is not real. Furthermore, the image that is being showed is not always the same which helps create various stereotypes in which we tend to classify people. For example, common media representations of women include: “the glamorous sex kitten, the sainted mother, the devious witch, the hard-faced corporate and political climber.” These stereotypes affect greatly our society because we forget what we really are and what are our capabilities because we are always trying to sort ourselves into one of these categories. Unfortunately, there is a report that stated that it would take at least 75 more years to reach gender equality in media.
Most of the time we don’t seem to notice the effects media has on us but everything around us, the way we think, the way we dress, the way talk, the way we walk, everything is influenced by media. Therefore, we strive to achieve this utopian conception of women and in the process we destroy ourselves, our essence. Trying to be someone you are not is forgetting how much you are worth. We have forgotten that weight doesn’t measure one’s worth and neither do clothes, or how well one applies makeup. Nothing can measure what we are worth; we, just by being people, are worth a lot. However, the society in which we live is based on superficialities and that’s why we pay so much attention to our outer appearance instead of focusing on our inside. That’s the reason why girls are growing up to have a lot of insecurities and a hyperbolic amount of lack of self-esteem. Everyday “More and more 12-year-old girls are going on diets because they believe what you weight determines your worth (Ossola, 2010).” When girls enter adolescence there is a drop in their self-esteem because they are being bombarded with images of the stereotypical beautiful, obsessively thin and barely dressed object men desire. It is important to highlight that this is also a stereotype because not all men want that.
Besides being portrayed as cute and stupid we are also portrayed as dependent and useless. Media promotes the idea that women need a man in their lives to be someone successful and the worst part is that we believe it. We are always waiting for our “prince” to come rescue us from our miserable life but we never realize that we are the only ones that can save ourselves.
As women we need to start fighting against stereotypes that damage us and make us the slaves of social expectations. We have been oppressed and controlled for many years it is time to stop and take matters into our own hands. We can’t let media and stereotypes define who we are, we need to show them that we are much more.
Ossola, A. (2010). Hamilton. Retrieved from The media´s effect on women´s body image: http://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/the-medias-effect-on-womens-body-image