Sexism may be defined as a negative response to a threat that is either real or imagined. In society today sexism plays a major role in terms of image, reputations, and perceptions of how women are portrayed in the media and life in general. The media relatively plays an influential role in sexism against women since the media has predetermined standards of what women should be like. Women base their expectations of society and more importantly, expectations of themselves, by what they see around them. All of us consume the media in one form or another the media sends us images that we consciously or subconsciously absorb, and create a picture in our minds of “reality”, the way we believe things should be. This also affects men also since there are certain expectations that they have to live up to.
The media, entertainment icons, and school cooperatively exhibit and promote gender assimilation, although there are certain standards that men and women must live up to. The media and entertainment icons especially, hold a strong influence on women’s perspective on themselves, especially teenage girls who are going through the awkward stages of their life. Britney Spears is one of the several popular icons in the entertainment industry that plays an influential role in young women lives across the globe. While she’s making millions of dollars from touring and selling albums, she’s influencing the vulnerable minds of women and their perception of themselves.
She’s also setting standards in the from her teenage fan base perspective since they idolize her. Adolescent girls start to obsess over the fact that they have to try to look like Britney Spears by buying similar clothing she wears and constantly worry about their weight since Britney Spears pictures in the magazine looks makes it look like she’s skinny. What they can’t seem to comprehend is that most of the time people who have their pictures in the magazines are airbrushed 95% of the time to perfect the flaws that person has. Therefore, girls are going to start to get the impression that they must look like that individual that the magazine promotes.
The masterminds behind the propaganda of Britney Spears’ reputation are the executives at the record company. They figure that since young women are very vulnerable to the fact that their self-esteem is capable of being influenced by someone’s image or actions. Executives know in order to make money off of Britney Spears; they try molding her into a typical young woman so teenagers can relate to her as a person and image. To accomplish this, they know that Britney can be innovated by promoting certain clothing and doing certain things. In the long run not only the record company is making a profit from this but the clothing stores/companies are benefiting from it too. When it comes down to wanting to look like Britney Spears, adolescents think they have to look like her because of the way she looks and how small her clothes are.
Fashion trends and clothing styles, in particular, significantly aid the social construction of gender, especially women. The mere presence of a standard for the judgment of beauty automatically designates some group to be in control of the other. This causes individuals to constantly judge one another to make sure that they fit into the correct gender classification. Trendy, hip clothing are made for a very specific, minority group of women- narrow-hipped, small-breasted, tall, and skinny. The pressure to fit into these styles of clothes is unrelenting and produces insecurities and a poor self-perception. These adolescent anxieties are not uncommon and can produce eating disorders, depression, and suicide.
Self-esteem is very important for both men and women because it helps them define who they are as a person mentally and physically. High standards that are being portrayed in the media make us self-consciously aware of how we’re supposed to look like in real life. The new diet trends such as south beach, the zone, and Atkins diet are forcing us to think that we need to lose weight in order to be a suitable size. Also new technologies that are being created to prolong youthful appearances also put an impression on the society that it’s not appropriate to age. Diets and aging to aside, celebrities that are thin and youthful that meet the alleged “beauty standards” of modern society conveys a message to adolescents and women that it is “wrong” to be a certain size or have a particular image. In the long run this speeds up the process of adolescents, men and women in general to develop some sort of eating disorder or depression due to low self-esteem.
The media forces this upon us to see this and absorb this into our minds, and form somewhat a distorted mentality of ourselves. Eating disorders are one of the most common problems among adolescents in our society. Individuals who lack a good self-esteem are prone to influences of perfection, when in reality there is no such thing as being perfect. Images of women and men in the media that are almost always young, thin, muscular and highly attractive and which is not the norm. This is what they strive to become, many become miserable in the process. Normal body features bodily changes – such as putting on weight, getting older, having underarm and leg hair, having pimples or having small breasts – are shown to be highly undesirable, and even abnormal.
These body enhancements procedures can sometimes be fatal and lead to death. An individual shouldn’t have to go through the matters of life and death risks just to change a minor imperfection about them. Women and men are constantly made to feel that they are ‘not good enough’, and that they should take corrective measures to improve themselves and their bodies to be closer to the norm which could lead to psychological and emotional harm, as well as eating disorders in some women who are obsessed with changing their bodies in order to look desirable and to “be accepted” in society.
The general public begins to accept these standards and assimilate this into their morals. The individual in the society start to believe what the media says about what they think is right. This is when sexism and racism come into play. They start to use impractical standards against other people and start to judge them based on what they look like. Men and women in the society are greatly affected by this since they have to deal with their social peers. In order to fit in they try to perfect themselves and change the way they look by following the latest trends and values. Unfortunately, in our society today people continue to pass judgment on others and not give that person a chance to make their first impression.
In conclusion, I feel that people shouldn’t pay attention to irrational standards that are going to make their lives miserable. Despite the media’s and the public standards of perfection, a person should be happy with who they are regardless of how they look. Instead of striving to fix their smallest flaws by going through extreme measures such as starving themselves to stay thin or going through cosmetic surgery to maintain a youthful and attractive appearance, they should accept their imperfections and be happy with who they are. The society has these standards to define themselves as a person. Sometimes these standards are created to put stereotypes on genders in order to characterize who they are. I feel that these standards shouldn’t exist and that each individual should go by their own standards.