A Facebook friend posted the original version, so I decided to fix it.
A Facebook friend posted the original version, so I decided to fix it.
In a new study conducted by USC Annenberg and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, researchers looked at the way women are portrayed in the media. They analyzed nearly 12,000 speaking roles on prime-time TV and in children’s TV shows and family films, studying “female characters’ occupations, attire, body size and whether they spoke or not.”
The results were pretty depressing:
The team’s data showed that on prime-time television, 44.3 percent of females were gainfully employed — compared with 54.5 percent of males. Women across the board were more likely to be shown wearing sexy attire or exposing some skin, and body size trends were apparent: ‘Across both prime time and family films, teenaged females are the most likely to be depicted thin.’ … Perhaps most telling are the percentages of speaking female characters in each media form: only 28.3 percent of characters in family films, 30.8 percent of characters in children’s shows, and 38.9 percent of characters on prime time television were women.
… [R]esearchers reported that they found a lack of aspirational female role models in all three media categories, and cited five main observations: female characters are sidelined, women are stereotyped and sexualized, a clear employment imbalance exists, women on TV come up against a glass ceiling, and there are not enough female characters working in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] fields.”
Media messages reinforce sexist attitudes about what women are capable of achieving. As this study shows, female characters are significantly limited in the roles they play — they’re often relegated to supporting roles, as characters less central to the plot, and as sex objects. This impacts how girls grow up feeling about their own abilities and what opportunities are open to them, and it also affects how boys learn to view girls — who gets to be the star, who gets to be the boss, and who’s supposed to just sit there and look pretty:
“Both young girls and boys should see female decision-makers, political leaders, managers, and scientists as the norm, not the exception. By increasing the number and diversity of female leaders and role models on screen, content creators may affect the ambitions and career aspirations of girls and young women domestically and internationally.”
Read more about the study at Huffington Post.
Portia de Rossi, actress and wife of comedian Ellen DeGeneres, struggled with anorexia for years. Her weight hit a low of 82 pounds while filming the TV show Ally McBeal, partly due to entertainment industry pressure to be thin and also due to the shame of hiding her sexual orientation. She wrote her book, Unbearable Lightness, for anyone who’s ever struggled with body image.
The above quote was from an episode of the brilliant new show, The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, which airs on Lifetime. Watch a clip from the show here:
This is me. Don’t think for one second that posting a picture of myself with dirty hair, no makeup, and in unflattering lighting didn’t take some ovaries! Like many women, I’ve struggled with not feeling pretty enough, thin enough, perfect enough. I’ll be the first to admit that I think I look the best in the photo on the right. It’s the photo I use on the back of my book and on the About Me page of this website. I am definitely a product of our beauty-obsessed culture. But this is also me sacrificing my vanity for the greater good. How can I talk about body acceptance and the need to fight against sexist and oppressive imagery if I’m not being real with myself? It takes courage to be real. So everyone, this is what I look like in the morning. Deal with it.
The media manufacture female insecurity for profit. They invent flaws in our appearance and pressure us to fix them. They segment the female body as if it were a bucket of chicken — we’re just legs and breasts and thighs. They convince us that our bodies are too meaty and fatty, our skin is too greasy, and our hair is too fried. They manipulate us with idealized images of hot chicks who were perfected by plastic surgeons, injectable facial fillers and paralyzers, professional photographers, makeup artists, special lighting, hair stylists, fashion designers, and finally photoshopping. And then we compare our real selves with this illusion. It’s not a fair fight.
A woman’s appearance is always treated as relevant. Tabloids critique female celebrities for gaining weight or having the “worst beach body”. The Playmate of the Year is featured on the evening news. Political commentators assess female candidates’ appearance almost as much as their political beliefs. We’re trained to think that our sexuality is our primary source of power. I discuss this in my upcoming book, If Beauty Is Inside, Why Do We Hate Our Guts?: Pop Culture, Sexism, & Power. In the recent documentary Miss Representation, the filmmaker also examines how our culture’s sexualization of women actually minimizes our power in society. Just think about it — if the most powerful women in the country are reduced to their looks, how can any of us expect to be treated with respect?
It starts with respecting ourselves and having the courage to be real. We have to stop allowing the media to define us in such a superficial and demeaning way. When we pull back the curtain, we see that the sculpted and perfected illusion is just a real woman who has more in common with us than we think.
I wasn’t exactly excited to share my naked face with the Internet, but I put together the above image so that you could see the reality behind the special effects. I’d love to see models and celebrities do the same, but their careers depend on them maintaining the illusion. So for now, maybe it’ll just be up to us regular women. And that brings us to Beauty Is Inside’s new “Courage to be Real” Campaign!
The “Courage to be Real” Campaign is about cracking the illusion of perfection that makes us hate our bodies and compete with each other. I challenge you to be courageous and send in “before and after” photos of yourselves, along with what was manipulated in the “after” photo. Send your photos to email@example.com. I’ll collect them all in a photo gallery on this site, and I’ll also post them on the Beauty Is Inside Facebook page and on Twitter @_BeautyIsInside.
Come on — if I did it, so can you! Together, we can inspire other women and girls to have the courage to be real themselves.
Unlike most commercials, those that air during the Super Bowl are ones that people actually want to watch. These $3.5-million-per-30-second-time-slots can be opportunities for companies to be clever, maybe even inspiring … but instead, many insist on falling back on lazy and uninspired sexist clichés. This is so expected in fact, that MissRepresentation.org, a campaign named after the brilliant documentary film, asked viewers to call out these companies on Twitter with the hashtag #notbuyingit.
Here are the 5 worst offenders, followed by a sampling of You Tube comments that show how sexist messages reinforce viewers’ own sexist beliefs:
1) Teleflora — In what seems more like a Victoria’s Secret ad than an ad for a florist, a Victoria’s Secret model explains to guys that purchasing a few stargazer lilies is enough to make a girl feel obligated to have sex:
And here are a few comments from enlightened viewers (typos left intact):
• “Shes so much more attractive when she doesnt speak lol” (49 thumbs up)
• “I was enjoying it, until she opened her mouth.” (16 thumbs up)
- • “It would be so cool to watch a bunch of fat ugly women, chowing down on chips, burgers and fries while they watched this commercial. Those hogs would be spewed out chewed food swearing at the tv. And fat ugly chicks care to comment on this? And how did you react?”
2) Fiat — In this rarely-used cliché, an attractive woman inexplicably seduces an unattractive geek. She apparently finds being eye-groped a turn-on. I know that I totally wanted to do the last creeper who eye-groped me on the street. I mean what girl wouldn’t?
And a few comments:
- • “Insecure and/or ugly chicks tend call things ‘sexist’. Lighten up.”
- • “if i buy that car i’ll ride it hard:)”
- • “This commercial gets 4 boners out of 5. There is nothing more sensual and intriguing than foreign women. American women are so one dimensional, this one is amazing. European and Latin women are the best in the world. American women are total crap!” (48 thumbs up)
3) NFL — Here’s the super-original fantasy of having a bunch of nearly-nude fembots mindlessly standing at attention in the background in case they’re needed to fulfill the sexual fantasies of average-Joe-millionaires.
And a couple of comments:
- • “great ad David! big pimpin!!”
- • “Expansive girls can be had pretty cheap actually.”
4) Go Daddy (shocking, I know!) — Judging by their consistently pervy Super Bowl commercials, you’d think Joe Francis was somehow behind it all. Not sure what half-naked girls gone wild have to do with web-hosting, unless Go Daddy is the go-to web host for porn sites.
Here’s a comment that’s actually critical of the ad:
- • “sexist douche bags run this company and the ads are almost always sexist. Jillian Michaels has lost any self respect as a woman by working with these tools”
And these two commenters quickly put her in her place:
- • “Oh Stfu.. Your just mad cause you look like shit so you start calling people “sexist” because of their commericals just stfu and sit down.. They have a Job I don’t see them complaining about it..”
- • “You in the Kitchen?”
5) M&Ms — And last, but not least sexist, and also oddly ironic … we’re introduced to Ms. Brown, an intelligent and articulate female M&M who voices her annoyance at being treated as eye candy, but whose objection gets shut down by an idiot:
Sigh. We feel your frustration, Ms. Brown M&M. We really do.
In a previous post, I discussed how the media create arbitrary flaws in women’s bodies, then conveniently offer up solutions to fix those flaws. That post was about ugly armpits. Today’s example is about the land down under — and I don’t mean Australia. (I’ve also written about this flawed area before.) Yesterday, Jezebel posted a clip from the CBS daytime show, “The Doctors,” in which they discuss how “Your Aging, Deflated Vagina Is Like A Hamburger.” (Well technically, it’s your aging, deflated vulva, but let’s move on.)
On the show, Dr. Jennifer Berman, expert in the field of female urology and sexual medicine, made her case by explaining how your private parts become less puffy as they succumb to gravity, age, and having babies, and this makes them sag and deflate. She used a hamburger as a pretend vulva. (I guess a taco would’ve been too tacky.) She held the burger sideways so that the meat patties represented the inner labia minora and the buns were the outer labia majora — the parts that don’t puff enough. (Side note to show producers: On the next show, you could totally add different condiments to the burger in order to discuss a variety of vaginal maladies, e.g., cheese, mayo, ketchup, etc. Just a thought.)
Dr. Berman explained that a procedure called the “Labial Puff” can counteract the sagging and deflating. It entails injecting the outer lips with cosmetic filler, similar to the injections done to the lips on your face. It allegedly helps to revolumize the labia majora — or in other words — it puffs your muff.
“Ladies, you’re not going to notice it if you’re just laying down or sitting down. I actually had to bend over and look under and I swear to God, I almost had a heart attack [insert audience laughter]. And it was subtle, but it was there,” she said.
So, let’s get this straight. This alleged labial malformation isn’t noticeable unless you’re bending over and looking under yourself in some sort of mangled yoga pose, right? And not only that, but while you’re contorting yourself to search for your most recently discovered fucked up body part, you discover that it’s only subtly fucked up? It doesn’t hurt or interfere with your sexual function, but it supposedly looks subtly fucked up according to those who have an interest in fixing it. And that alone is a good reason to perform a cosmetic procedure on it? That’s what I think is fucked up.
And that, boys and girls, is an example of how the media invent an arbitrary flaw in the female body to create a need, and then serve up a solution to fulfill that need.
The Labial Puff is supposed to make your vulva look more youthful … some would say even childlike. So here’s a question: what about the guys? When boys go through puberty, their testicles drop, and they continue their downward descent as men age. Why don’t we hear “The Doctors” make a case for the Sack Lift to make men look more youthful? Like the Labial Puff, it could be just a simple outpatient procedure in which they inject cosmetic fillers to pump up the testicular volume. Then they could do a couple of little snips and stitches to raise them up to a more youthful — and virile state.
The best part? “The Doctors” could explain the procedure on their show by using a couple of meatballs.
Just LOVE this fake commercial from the British television sketch comedy series, That Mitchell and Webb Look, on BBC. Hilarious way to show how the advertising industry markets to women vs. men.
Seriously, Dove®. Just because I love your chocolate, it doesn’t mean I love your chocolate.