When I was a little girl, I remember always wanting to be a pop star or supermodel. All the girls I saw on television were pop stars, and models, so naturally that is what I wanted to be. All the characters that I saw in the media had a very strong influence, the good and the bad equally.
A majority of the time women on television are being portrayed as shallow people, who do not have any true aspirations in life besides the maintenance of their physical appearance, and once they are faced with a real problem, they are unable to solve it themselves. There is usually a Prince Charming who comes to save the day. There is never a lead female character having a destiny or trying to save the world. As I got older I had to ask myself why the media portrays women this way
So the problem is, there is a lack of representation of strong females in the media. A lot of the female characters that young, impressionable children are watching usually fit certain negative stereotypes associated with females in society. If television can shape girls to lead the runway it can also shape them to lead countries.
It is safe to say that Children watch a lot of television. MissRepresentation.org reported that “American teenagers spend: 31 hours a week watching T.V. 17 hours a week listening to music 3 hours a week watching movies 4 minutes a week reading magazines and 10 hours a week online.” A lot of busy parents come home from work and they are exhausted . They do not want to have to deal with their children so they put them in front of the Television screen. Marie Winn argues in her essay “Television:the Plug in Drug” that parents place children in front of the television to act like a babysitter “a mother reported that she turns on the television set when her kids are arguing rather than actually solving the problem.”(262.) The amount of time that children spend watching television should not be completely frowned upon if the show is a good quality show.
What is a good quality show versus a bad quality show? One example of a bad quality show could be reality television. There has been a huge rise of popularity in reality television. A lot of the reality television shows center on a certain kind of female characters. Usually the characters are catty and vindictive always arguing with the other females or competing with one another.
A very good example is America’s Next Top Model, in the show there is a group of girls competing to be models. The show has challenges were the contestants perform tasks,and are forced to compete against the other girls. At first glance this show just seems like another reality television show that exists for our entertainment but, when looked at in detail, the show is ingraining something else into young girls. A lot of the contestants dropped out of college or high school just to pursue their lifelong dream of being a model. This is telling girls that your looks are more important than your education. Once the show is stripped down, it comes to realization that the contestants are competing with their looks. Every week the contestants did a photoshoot and were put in front of a panel of judges who would tell them if they look good enough or not. The host of the show, former supermodel Tyra Banks, had a catch phrase where she would ask the girls “If they have what it takes to be on top?”, and if you didn’t you were sent home. This is a big problem in society. Girls are always competing for something, whether it be who is the best dressed or for the affection of a man. Television shows like America’s Next Top Model are contributing to the problem. No one television show can be the complete blame for how children act and behave but it can be a contributing factor.
The lack and misleading representation of strong females in the media is a problem that cannot simply be solved overnight. It is a complex topic that has to do with how women are treated overall in society. Ariel Levy touches lightly on the topic in her essay “Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” she supports my argument by stating “Is it worth asking ourselves if this world of boobs and gams we have resurrected reflects how far we have come, or how far we have left to go.”(161.). It is clear that society has a new found fascination with raunchy reality television shows. These television shows want you to believe that they are apart of the women’s liberation movement when in all actuality they are just setting us back.