Being “attractive” is something that is hugely glorified in today’s media. Images of scantily clad women in compromising positions fly across our television screens between each program. Advertising producers who believe that half-naked women will attract customers to their product create these images and they’re right. In today’s society, sex sells. Here’s an example:
In the photos above, two fragrances are being advertised. As we know, the purpose of fragrances is to make us smell good, nothing more, which is why I don’t see the point of having the bottle positioned in between a woman’s legs, or positioned next to a woman blatantly showing her backside.
Commercial producers and companies should know better, but they’re still milking the fact that sex sells.
What these commercial producers don’t know (or perhaps they do), is that children, including young girls are watching their adult counterparts in these advertisements.
Little girls see these over-sexualized images every day until they internalize them.
When these skinny, white, tall women strut across the television screen and magazine ads, instead of questioning the images themselves, millions of little girls question themselves as they stare in the mirror. As Audre Lorde expresses in Sister Outsider, it is the “nightmare on your white pillow, your itch to destroy, the indestructible part of yourself.” One can only imagine how much these girls want to destroy the “indestructible” parts of themselves when they see these images.
In my high school feminism class, we watched the powerful documentary Miss Representation, which chronicles over-sexualized images of women in the media. The documentary is an eye-opener, and I recommend it to anyone who is doing research on hyper-sexualized images in the media. Ever since I’ve watched the documentary, I’ve noticed these images in most commercials on television.
Due to the media being an outlet for millions of Americans, anything seen in the media will be internalized to an extent. Young girls internalize these images because there is a lack of role models in the media. In one scene in Miss Representation, there was one instance on MSNBC during an episode of Morning Joe when Joe dismisses a thoughtful conversation (about a female politician, might I add) in order to speak about how Paris Hilton looked in her jeans walking out of a hotel.
I personally found this very disgusting. Let me say first: Paris Hilton is not a role model. That man on television sure as hell is not a role model. When girls watch or read any form of media, they should be able to see a woman who they can relate to, who they want to emulate, and one who inspires them to follow their dreams.
It has been said that in order to reverse the effects of over-sexualized images in the media, we must, as Michele Borba states: “offer our daughters female role models who feel comfortable in their own skin and don’t need to rely on Botox, breast implants, dieting, and designer labels to feel attractive. Expose your daughter to authentic, confident women, and then tell her why you admire them. Our girls need strong, resourceful female examples to emulate.”
If more role models were pushed into the media spotlight, then confidence would be gained for millions of girls. Their definition of happiness would change to something other than “big boobs, big ass, straight hair, etc.” The few role models that girls do have are Photoshopped in order to look like the “ideal woman.” Here’s an example below:
The sad thing is that these images are enforced by men. When I was younger, I had a lot of male friends and when they were asked what their ideal woman would be, most of them said “large breasts, large butt, nice teeth.” When I said “nice personality,” everyone stared at me and I immediately became the outcast of the group.
Now that I have watched documentaries such as Miss Representation, the bottom line is this: THIS NEEDS TO STOP. It’s terrible enough that women must go through it, but the fact that it’s enforced by our culture is quite saddening. Girls can be more than just a body, and these sexualized images cause them to sell themselves short. Only by working together, can we change what’s in the media.