Media is playing a key role in almost all walks of life. Even to make something negative known about media, I have to use the same media. This shows how important media is in this fast-evolving world. Media has tons of positives. It effects education, health, communication and other things fundamental to us. But, it also has many negative things which it brings along.
A few days back, as I was flipping through the newspapers, I came across pictures of some half-clad women. The women were advertising a car. The irony of the situation was that normally a car which is bigger than a human being was shown smaller, while zooming in on the women. Looking at this, I wondered what was the object of the sale – women or the car'
The way women are portrayed in advertisements does not speak well of our mentality. We are objectifying women by our portrayal. Mostly, in ads, we see women touching, caressing, objectified, lying on the floor, body contorted, dressed like a child, sitting on a bed or chair, eyes closed, not alert, confused, holding an object or a man for support, sexy and sexually available, playful, careless and the list goes on. Most of the positions or behavior are either seductive or show vulnerability. These are positions of submissiveness and powerlessness. This can be clearly seen when women are shown lying on the floor, as men stand over them, literally depicting them as commodities and giving the impression that female bodies are quite plainly ‘prepared for consumption’.
Feminity, in advertising is not only used as a ploy of sexual appeal, but also in keeping with societal norms of how women are “supposed to look”. The ideal female is white, thin, sexily clad, tall, with “tubular” body, blonde hair and above all, submissive. When a girl sees this and finds that she does not meet the expectation, there are chances of developing frustration, stress, low self esteem, identity crises and other psychological problems. This can also make the women believe in ads and she may start buying the products just to look like the models leading to consumerism.
We often hear that sex sell; most of the time what they really mean is that sexy women sell. For scores of years, advertisers have been finding different ways to feature women in ads in order to entice buyers. The way women have been portrayed in advertising has changed over the decades, and changed the way society views women because of it. Images in the media today project an unrealistic and even dangerous standard of feminine beauty that can have a powerful influence on the way women view themselves. Women become sexual objects when their bodies and their sexuality are linked to products that are bought and sold. We also see that women’s bodies are often dismembered into legs, breasts, hips or thighs, reinforcing the message that women are objects rather than a whole human being.
“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. This is a famous quote we hear over and over again. The question we have to ask is who feeds the views of the beholder' What we see over and over again makes an impression on our mind and we tend to think that, that which is shown is beautiful. We need to be critical about what we see, or rather, we need to be critical of what the media wants us to see. It is publicized because we enjoy seeing, without our support there would not have been sexually provocative advertisements on women. Another question that arises is “Why are women degrading themselves'” Everyone has their own reasons, some for money, some are forced or some others may take pleasure in such cheap type of publicity.
The way women are portrayed in the media is one of the major reasons for social evils like rape, eve teasing, harassment, abuse and other such evils that take place against women.