The portrayal of women in media
Do we need to re-think the portrayal of women in the media? Do we need to re-think Barbie as a female icon rather than a tool of the goshdarn evil patriarchy? Do we just need to think a bit more?
Common female stereotypes found in the media have a powerful influence over how society views women and how women view themselves. With TV shows portraying women as objects and magazines showing half naked women to sell a product, and adverts highlighting very skinny, seemingly flawless women it is very difficult not to be influenced by the objectification of women.
Many stereotypes surrounding women are very negative. 38% of female characters found in video games are wearing hardly any clothes and at least 23% are showing cleavage. This undervalues women and shows them to be sexual objects instead of people. The pressure is on young women to be similar to the women in video games or adverts, who are ‘perfect’.
Disney is particularly good at portraying women in a bad way. Snow White, The Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin all feature unrealistic young women who are far too skinny and vulnerable. Many of the women in Disney movies all rely on strong men to help them survive. Although these films were made in past, movies have yet to show a positive, successful, sane women. In movies such as The Proposal and Disclosure, although the lead women are successful they are also shown to be cold-hearted and detached, sending the message that relationships, family and possibly even sanity is sacrificed for a woman to be successful.
The media is not providing enough role models for young women to look up to and arguably one of the only role models women have is Barbie. Yes, she is skinny, blonde and wears too much make up but she has also become successful in every career imaginable. We have Doctor Barbie, Vet Barbie, Pilot Barbie, Soccer Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Fire Fighter Barbie and my personal favourite, United States President Barbie. And most importantly, despite her extremely busy career, she has still managed to have a family as Pregnant Barbie showed.
Barbie is not just your classic bimbo; she has intelligence beyond imagination and still manages to maintain the perfect body image, a role model to young women everywhere without them realising it.
Barbie is sexy, while highly respected and successful, which is what most women want in the end. The sooner we have more Barbies in the media the more respected women will become. And we will not feel as much pressure to be ‘perfect’.