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Self Improvement or Self Destruction?

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Self Improvement or Self Destruction?

Self Improvement or Self Destruction?

Visual representations of women in the media are one way to understand gender relations and ideals in today's society. They show us how the world should view women and how they think their audiences view women. When one looks into these various forms of mass media, it helps us understand these underlying views about gender. There are, of course, many different types of visual representations in the media, such as television, sports networks, and commercials. Along with all these media types, the visual representation of women in women's magazines has had a large impact of the views of gender norms and beauty ideals, causing women to change how they look and constantly doubt what is considered "normal".

Bare skin, seductive body language, and vulnerability are what one sees whenever they turn the pages of almost every woman's magazine. Women are found to be represented in very similar ways throughout all types of media, especially in women's magazines. Women are seen to be purely decorative and play very alluring and sexual roles. Simply, women are portrayed extremely stereotypically. These ads do not include women doing any type of work or having any type of employment. So despite women's movement into the labor force and feminist gains, women are still primarily depicted in traditional or stereotypical light. A woman's place as in the home and women as primarily concerned with household tasks and personal beauty are two major stereotypes seen in these magazines. In addition to this, women are also depicted as being dependent and in need of men's protection, as sexual objects, and as completely non-functional. These representations of femininity are completely unfair and stereotype all women into one gender category.

Flip through the pages of this month's "Lucky" magazine. One will instantly see a large, double-paged advertisement for Guess Jeans. A white female with a large chest and a small waist lays across the pages topless, with nothing but a tight pair of blue jeans on. What is this telling the women in today's society? Beauty ideals are also commonly represented in the advertisements in women's magazines. The physical appearance of the women in these ads focus on components of women such as the darkness of skin, eye color, the appearance of hair, nose shape, lips, and various other physical traits. One will see a "beautiful", white female with pouting red lips and the thin body that resembles a thirteen-year-old girl. The completely artificial women in these ads create a norm and make those who looks differently feel less privileged and make them feel as though they are less of a woman. They tend to over represent the Caucasian, blonde with bright eyes and a thin figure. This is an unattainable beauty for most women, which has caused many to develop issues such as eating disorders and depression. Some may say that these magazines promote self-improvement, but it has actually caused the self-destruction of many women. By saying this, the majority of the populations of women feel unrepresented, inadequate, and less fortunate.

This representation of women has causes thousands of women every year to change how they look because of these views society has formed. Katheryn Pauly Morgan speaks about how women change they're bodies in order to fit in with the gender representations the media portrays in her article "Women and the Knife: Cosmetic Surgery and the Colonization of Women's Bodies". She speaks about the impact of physical appearance has on women today when she states, "The affirmation of her beauty brings with privileged heterosexuality affiliation, privileged access to forms of power unavailable to the plan, the ugly, the aged, and the barren" (452). This supports the idea that the media has had so much of an impact on the physical appearance of women that those who look differently are not only looked down upon, but less likely to be able to gain power in the workforce. She speaks about how Jewish women demand nose reductions, Asian women request "Westernizing"

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