Gender role and prioritizations usually have overreaching representations in modern world, especially in mass media. The messages conveyed through television, print media and other popular channels tend to posit stereotypical notions about how the feminine gender ought to be viewed. Since women’s participation at the uppermost level of management in media conglomerates have always been miniscule, male outlooks and interests generally dominate the portrayal of women in media content worldwide (Byerly and Ross 122). This essay is going to analyze how bulky women are portrayed in the commercial domains of print media.
To discuss the topic at length, we have chosen three popular magazines and approached the issue from a twofold perspective – how such women appear in still photography and also in the written representation. Before delving into the select magazines for extending the issue of debate, it is worth taking a look at the widespread conventions about what exactly constitutes of the idea of a media-friendly female figure. According to Hollywood standards, any woman who is not “unnaturally skinny” is considered to be large or overweight (Grogan 126).
But the world of showbiz and the real world are two distinctly different things and it is quite difficult to arrive at a common media consensus over portraying only slim women for all types of advertising campaigns. Hence, categorizations according to socio-cultural and business requirements are made to distinguish between models with average physical appearances and those with slender looks. An advertisement promoting certain health drink product, for instance, is unlikely to be a hit among its target consumers if a skinny, ultra-thin girl features in it.
Having said so, it is still a taboo to introduce average female bodies for commercial purposes, as the ensuing part of this essay will testify to. The world famous Playboy magazine has exercised a cult influence on the young generation all over the world. Data accumulated from various international beauty contests in the latter half of the twentieth century have clearly brought out the shifting paradigm of body measurements as far as the concept of ideal beauty is concerned.
Celebrated Playboy models have been portrayed as having a remarkably slender presence (Sonderegger and Anastasi 277). However, the visual pleasure of looking at an attractive Playboy girl does not have to necessarily comply with what is being written about her. The language of the eyes in front of a beautiful object is bound to differ from the intangibility and vagueness of written words. The apparent shift in perspective from considering body gender under visual and written dimensions has led to portraying women differently in some of the Asian mass media houses.
Women regularly feature in Asian magazines and entertainment weeklies in the form of “victims, subservient, nurturing, sacrificing and objectified sexualised beings. ” (genderIT. org, 2009) The widely circulated Outlook magazine maintains a firm approach toward depicting women along these lines. The traditional cultural hegemony of South Asia plays a monitoring part in this context. What appears in photographs does not deviate much from the content either. Portrayal of large women in many of the frontline Asian magazines does not entail hardnosed impositions as is seen in popular western cultures.
The Rolling Stone magazine published from San Francisco did run into a controversy surrounding the graphical representation of a partially nude Janet Jackson on the cover. Albeit the issue of women liberation was made to be a supporting ground behind the publication of this edition, the less trodden issue concerning the absence of large women (Janet Jackson being very slim by the conventional sense of the term) from popular magazine covers came to the fore with the publication of the September 1993 edition of Rolling Stone.
So judging by concrete empirical evidences, it is fair enough to take the stance not in favor of the portrayal of large women in mass media. While the scenario is relatively flexible in most of the Asian countries, the United States of America, Canada and other nations in the world still prefer to exclude big and overweight women from their promotional products and events.