I have a friend who did her University Dissertation on how women are portrayed in the media (or along those lines, sorry if I got it mixed up!) and whilst she was completing it, she was asking for other people’s thoughts on the subject.
What’s interesting is that a lot of women are now starting to speak out about the way that women are portrayed in films, adverts, campaigns and magazines. Even celebrities are calling out magazines for how they Photoshop and retouch the photographs of their cover girls! And in this Feminist day and age, it’s something that actually crosses my mind a lot.
When my friend asked how we feel about the diversity of body types in the media and whether it affects the way we buy clothes, this was my response:
I’m not a huge fan of the way that the media choose to portray the “average female” in their adverts. More often than not, the women in adverts tend to be a certain weight or look a certain way or wear a certain type of clothing. I think it’s damaging to impressionable girls (and boys) that they are made to think that this is what “sexy and desirable” looks like. It puts huge pressure on children and teenagers to “fit in” and to look a certain way to be accepted as “pretty”.
Might be going off topic but magazines are also the worst at this – especially Celeb gossip mags. How often do we see those mags comment on celebrity’s weight or taken photos of them in bikinis on private holidays and publishing them with comments on how they look? People will be looking at how a celebrity who is a size 12 is being called overweight or how another celebrity “must be anorexic and unhealthy” if they’re a size 8. Body shaming is all over the media, regardless of what size a woman is.
It definitely affects what I choose to wear – I end up criticising my body when I try things on, rather than just accepting it and flaunting it. I feel a lot more comfortable in loose tops that hide my stomach, because I end up thinking that “I don’t look slim enough to wear otherwise.”
Don’t get me wrong, women come in all shapes and sizes and I have nothing against the women that are chosen to appear in adverts or other media campaigns. I just wish that there were a wider range of women of all body types, to represent the real life diversity!
I’m posting it here because it’s something I wholeheartedly believe and it’s something that still needs to be changed. And I think it is something that is changing: look at how Dove has started to use a wider diversity of women in their campaigns, and how Sure are empowering women to be proud of who they are in sports. It’s a great step but it’s something that still needs to be worked on! And it’s not just about size either, it’s about weight and disability and age. It’s about being inclusive and real, and empowering girls from all backgrounds.
I’ve also watched this video recently by Caitlin Stasey (who by the way was in The Sleepover Club when I was younger, which was my favourite TV show) where she speaks out about the way that women are treated in this day and age. It’s a very empowering message, and one that I’d urge women everywhere to watch.
I’m not entirely sure when this attitude in the media is ever going to change completely. But what I do know is that the more we speak about it, the more people will stand up and take notice!