During the first couple of weeks in Gender Studies 125, a lot of interesting materials were covered. Within these topics, the issue of messages from mass media and its affects on people, specifically children, grabbed my attention the most. The fact that photographs of models, especially women, are released into the world completely re-formatted and edited was shocking. Why do women have to have long and narrow legs, thin waists, and big breasts? I think it is due to these societal implications that cause people to use these images to create a standard of what is considered “beautiful” today. In addition, I also learned from the lectures that gender is socially constructed. However, I believe that advertisements in the media play a major role in determining what femininity and masculinity is. Femininity incorporates long hair, motherly role, cooking for the family, cleaning the house, and nurturing children images; whereas, masculinity defines power, muscular and toned bodies, breadwinner, and intelligence. Patriarchal society perhaps? These set of images implied from mass media affects what children learn.
I think this problem is something that needs to change as soon as possible. Young people today, particularly girls, are flooded with imagery of the “perfect” bodies. Children and teenagers are surrounded by mass media on a daily basis and the pictures and advertisements of the “perfect” body sends a message to them saying: this is how you should look and if you do not it is not right. Younger minds tend to be more impressionable and flexible. Therefore, for those who do not have the “perfect” body, may be likely to be diagnosed with depression, which can lead to anorexia, bulimia, or other disorders. I think that these images are problematic to young people because it takes young ones years, usually until their early to late adulthood to realize and understand that they were manipulated and the images that they have been exposed to are 100% fake and unreal.
Children spend more time with media than any other activity, except for sleeping (Children Now, 2013). With this in mind, American children spend approximately six hours per day with media (Children Now, 2013). Children are spending a great portion of their days with fake and unreal images and advertisements on a daily basis! Walt Disney movies are suitable examples to demonstrate with. In the movie The Little Mermaid, Ariel is the heroine. Yet, the answer to all her dreams is to get her man. Ariel does everything she can to make the prince fall in love with her; she eventually scarifies her own voice so she can have human legs in order to live with her beloved man. What does this show children? Girls sacrifice everything they have for their lover? Furthermore, she wears nothing but a bikini made from seashells (excluding her tail). Her waist is smaller than her head but her breasts are similar sizes to her head. Again, what will young children learn from this? What is society brainwashing our young minds with? Is this really the only way to advertise?
Advertisements and messages from mass media are problematic. Nonetheless, I think it will take more time for society to realize that showcasing fake models, as their ways of adverting is wrong because those imageries send out the wrong message and teach children the wrong ideas. Therefore, I think time and patience is needed for society to slowly walk away from these unnecessary implications. In conclusion, I hope that the way society is now will be a stepping-stone for it to improve for the future!