In today’s society it seems that a woman’s body is the main focal point in the media. We see the female body being portrayed as one of a model with unattainable measurements such as 36-24-36. All of this can be attributed to how our TV shows, movies, music videos, magazines, etc. portray the perfect female body. America and its’ media need to begin portraying women with all types of figures. This would help greatly to widen our thoughts and definition of what beauty really is, not to mention greatly lessen the different types of health problems American citizens have as a result of today’s unattainable beauty standards.
The first such example can be taken from the video Dreamworlds II. In this particular source, it explained the media’s effect, particularly in music videos, on the way society views how the female body should look and be treated. Deamworlds II continuously displayed many different types of music videos throughout the video to give the viewer a harsh look at reality. The video made the viewer take a look at how these music videos are normally the creation of males and will most always show the female as being the weaker sex that is around for only one reason, which is to satisfy the man. By showing the music videos continuously throughout the video, it made viewers take a harsh look at how we portray women and often never think twice about it when we are watching the music video on TV.
In our modern society, in almost every form of advertisement we use provocative sexual imagery to get the audiences attention. This idea often carries over to music videos in hopes that the sexual themes will get the viewers attention, which will attract them to the artist and their music. According to Dreamworlds II, men today direct ninety percent of the music videos. This results in videos with sexual dreamlands where men can make women do or be however they please. When this happens, it can be very dangerous for women and girls. They are no longer being seen as an actual person with subjectivity but instead they are shown as just body parts waiting for men to use or watch them. In these videos, the women’s stories are no longer being told because they are only seen in certain roles such as exotic dancers, teachers, nurses, housewives, or prostitutes. (Dreamworlds II)
As a result of these videos shown in Dreamworlds II, fantasy and reality can often become blurred to the viewers. These videos deliver many different types of messages where reality turns into fantasy. They often say that women need men badly and will fall apart emotionally without them. Also, they portray that all women often think about is having sex with any man who is around at the time. (Dreamworlds II)
Dreamworlds II also displayed how videos can also send out some messages that can be very dangerous such as even though women may say no to sexual advances they really mean yes. The images that are shown in these videos have had an affect on the real world. According to Dreamworlds II, sixty percent of men that were polled said that women provoke their own rape. A statistic that is even more alarming is that forty percent of women agreed that rape is provoked. Another frightening statistic that shows how today’s society has been influenced by the sexual dreamland is that thirty percent of men believe that it would do some women good to get raped. (Dreamworlds II)
These images have led the way for fantasy to be blurred with reality. As a result of this, as shown in the statistics, many people have a distorted outlook on rape and the victim. In The Vagina Monologues: My Vagina Was My Village, Eve Ensler recounts the story of a Bosnian woman refugee who had been raped by soldiers as a systematic tactic of war. The woman recalled how the six soldiers repeatedly took turns raping her for seven long days. They not only raped her but also shoved different foreign objects inside of the defenseless refugee while she lay there as a part of her body and soul died. Eve Ensler was outraged when she heard about the 20,000 to 70,000 women being raped in the middle of Europe as a tactic of war. She could not understand why nobody was doing anything to help these women. Then as she took a step back and looked at America, she realized that over 500,000 women were being raped each year in her own country even though America was not at war. (The Vagina Monologues) This story shows America how our country has a rising problem that can be partially blamed on the blurring of fantasy and reality. The media often portrays women as sex objects and when viewers take this into the real world this often creates many different problems such as something very serious like rape or something a person may inflict on them self like an eating disorder.
All of these images in the media have cultivated many different stereotypes about the way women should act and the way they should look. It should be no surprise that because of constantly being bombarded with thin, tall, and beautiful young women that there has been a rise in eating disorders among girls and women in the United States. In our country, five to ten million adolescent girls and women struggle with eating disorders and borderline conditions. Women today constantly feel as if they need to lose weight in order to look better or look like the celebrities and models we see in advertisements, movies, or on TV. Almost half of American women are on a diet at any given day. There is no problem in losing weight to feel better about yourself but many times today it is to fit into the standards of what beauty is. These standards are often very unattainable. The average American woman is 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. On the other hand, the average model is 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighs a mere 117 pounds. (www.edap.org)
All of this bombardment by the media to be thin also has a frightening affect on children especially young girls. Almost half of American elementary school students between the first and third grades want to be thinner. Another alarming statistics is that four out of five children at the age of ten are afraid of being classified as fat. Also, half of nine and ten-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet. These young children should not have to worry about these types of problems at their age but today’s society has forced our youth to be overwhelmed with these issues. (www.edap.org)
In today’s society we are always being bombarded by the media sending us different types of messages. We are now beginning to see what harmful effects the different types of media can have on women and girls and the way men view and treat them. America needs to take control of this rising problem by realizing that just because the media is doing or acting one way does not mean that we need to take it into our actual lives. We need to remember that there is a line between fantasy and reality that needs to be respected for Americans to lead safe and healthy lives.
Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention, Inc. “Eating Disorders in the USA: Statistics in Context.” Online: http://www.edap.org. 1999.
Ensler, Eve. The Vagina Monologues: My Vagina Was My Village. New York: Villard Books, 1998.
Jhally, Professor Sut. Dreamworlds II: Desire, Sex, and Power in Music Video. Media Education Foundation, 1995.