Saturday, March 13, 2010

A New Woman

A majority of commercials and advertisements today depict women as a sexual object in order to persuade the audience to buy their products. They more so appeal to the audience’s emotion rather than giving out actual information on how the product being sold would be a benefit. By doing this, advertisements do not only sell their products to show how a woman should be, but also the idea of how a woman should look like: very thin, poreless, and flawless. According to Naomi Wolf’s “Culture” from The Beauty Myth, advertisements feed on women’s insecurities of how they look and how they behave in order to get them to buy what advertisers are intending to sell. This is such a selfish, heartless way to make money.

Nowadays, media are exposed to kids at a younger and younger age. Advertisements, movies, television, magazines, and such media expose the images in which how an “ideal” woman should look like, and little girls learn at a young, immature age to modify themselves in order to conform and be more like those “ideal” women they see being displayed virtually everywhere. “There is relentless pressure on women to be small,” Jean Kilbourne says in “The More You Subtract, The More You Add,” and while being beautiful, “there is also pressure on us [women] to succeed, to achieve, to ‘have it all.’” While women are expected to look beautiful all the time, we are also expected to be intelligent. It is anticipated now more than ever before, and media such as films are beginning to show more of that. Then, women were only expected to be housewives and care for their children and home, but after working “man” jobs while the men were out fighting for America’s freedom in World War I, 61 to 85 percent of women...‘certainly did not want to go back to housework after the war.’” (Wolf 63) Women found that they are smart enough and capable of doing “men” work, so they fought to obtain their right to work in the “men's” field.

Sandra Day O’Connor was one of these women. She finished law school successfully, yet “no law firm in California was willing to hire her as a lawyer due to her sex,” Wikipedia says. However, she continued to be an attorney in other places around the United States, and soon enough, President Ronald Reagan nominated O’Connor to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in July 1981. Two months later, in the September of 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice.

Another example of intelligent women in the media is the movie Legally Blonde. Elle Woods had just graduated out of one of the top law schools, Harvard University, and is striving to become one of the top lawyers in Washington D.C. However, because of her blond hair and her fashionable sense of colorful style, as opposed to the traditional formal (and not-as-colorful) lawyer style, others in the law community assume that she is just another "dumb blond" who "worked" her way up to become a lawyer by using her looks to get what she wants, when in fact Elle actually studied and worked hard to be on top, and she proved this when she won a court using her knowledge of fashion, of course. Elle Woods was portrayed as a beautiful and "ideal" woman who also has brains, but still like the old ways of viewing women, she's seen as knowledgeable in the areas of fashion instead of having her solving a more realistic case that includes some real brain power.

In addition to illustrating more women as both beautiful and intelligent in the media, more women (and men) are now being shown as we really are: we all come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and are all somewhat flawed in our own unique way. The false sense of perfection that is predominantly being shown poses a huge problem. It sets a goal for the audience that is nearly impossible to achieve. And for those who did accomplish, for example, being as thin as the media illustrate their characters to be, it also greatly damaged their health. Fortunately, this problem is now slowly but surely decreasing because more people are speaking out against these fake realities. For example, Tyra Banks speaks out against many problems that young women face today in society on her Tyra Banks Show. In one of her episodes, she addressed the complications of the media constantly negatively criticizing women that being "fat" is not "pretty" and the hurtful feelings that are inflicted upon them by doing so. People are so used to seeing women (and men) all glamored up and perfect-looking in movies and magazines that when real images of people are shown, it is seen as unacceptable. How can it be unacceptable when it is the real reality and not the made up reality we are so used to seeing? In Tyra's emotional speech, she gives haters a piece of her mind. See her short speech here:

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