WOW | Men Speak

Does the media perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes of women? Does this create body image anxiety among women?

Amit-GiriAmit Giri

Women continue to be predominantly represented in passive and stereotyped roles in media. This extend beyond fictional representations; women are far more likely to be shown as victims and far more likely to be referred to in terms of their age, physical appearance or family role than men in the news. From the effect of celebrity culture on young women and girl body image, to the stereotyped portrayal of rape survivors, to a chronic under-representation of female news subjects, our attitudes are moulded by media and wider cultural representations of women. Moreover, the leadership of the media and culture industry is still dominated by men.

Body image directly correlates with how one sees them.  Criticism and change has raised concerns, awareness and extensive research that dissatisfaction with our bodies as women are directly related to mass media. Media exposure to unattainable physical perfection is detrimental to people, especially women, and these detrimental effects are currently more the rule than the exception. Within this cause and body effect images, women are fighting back to make a change in how people view realistic beauty.

Equality between women and men will not be achieved by legal change alone. How our society, culture, communities and individuals view women and women’s equality will make a huge difference. People, including women themselves have to believe in and support the idea that men and women are of equal value and worth. We need to see an end to narrow negative attitudes about women and outdated stereotypes that maintain inequality and limit both women and men. Telling curvy is better or patronising by suggesting that we are our own body critic and we should snap out of it isn’t going to help. Women will stop worrying about their looks when society stops telling them that this is all we’re worth. We should focus on that first.