The Portrayal of Women in Entertainment

According to an article on real leaders, 46% of stories presented in the news, print, radio, and television industry reinforce gender stereotypes while only 6% of their stories highlight gender equality issues. Female representation has a large impact on society and media. The representation of women has many different aspects that include women of color, body image, and stereotypes. The three articles that I will be discussing explain these three factors of female representation in media.

When people think about entertainment and media platforms such as movies and news networks they assume that they star male leads. Men have dominated the entertainment industry for decades. We see fewer women in entertainment and when they are presented it’s usually as a supporting character or as a character with no depth and substance. In an NPR article, “The Modern Newsroom Is Stuck Behind The Gender and Color Line”, Tal Abbady delves into the issue of the lack of representation for women of color in the entertainment industry, specifically as news reporters. Abbady speaks about how women and women of color bring a different perspective that a man might not have. It is crucial to have reporters that are of different genders and ethnicities as they represent a whole community. Abbady demonstrates this, “Without a wider range of reporters and a more layered approach to big stories, O’Neal says, the public’s understanding is impoverished. Just one example she cites — the disproportionate impact of deep cuts in retail jobs on low-income women, particularly women of color, is not addressed much in major news outlets” (NPR 2017). Abbady shows through the quote how the lack of representation can affect the type of news the public is receiving. If there are more women and women of color in the news industry then every community can feel like their voice is being heard and that the problems arising in their community are being discussed. While women of color are not being presented or discussed, stereotypes concerning their communities are present in the entertainment industry and media.

Stereotypes are often used in the entertainment industry to appeal to a certain audience. Shows geared towards men will usually contain female stereotypes such as a nurturing homebody while men are portrayed as the head of the household and money maker. Presenting characters in this way reinforces gendered stereotypes and is thus inhibiting society from moving forward and becoming critical thinkers. In the article, “Gender Representation on Gender Targeted Television Channels: A Comparison of Female and Male Targeted TV Channels in the Netherlands” Serena Daalmans, Mariska Kleemans, and Anne Sadza study gendered stereotypes in the Netherlands and how they vary. They conducted an experiment in which they studied different shows geared towards specific audiences. They discovered that the shows women typically watched represented women as equal but women are still represented as inferior or housewives in shows that had a predominantly male audience. The representation of women in male dominated shows should change to accommodate women and represent them as equals, “ Taken together, we can conclude that, in the Netherlands, it seems that a more equal image of gender might be cultivated particularly for female audiences, while the messages cultivated for male audiences remain highly gender-stereotyped” (Daalmans, Kleemans, Sadza 375). While men still have highly-stereotyped females, it is still an improvement that the image of women on shows for women has altered. Equal representation educates women and demonstrates how mindsets and social perspectives have changed. The authors also stress the importance of equal representation and how the representation of genders on media influences the workplace, social interactions, and attitudes.

Men and women rely on television, media, and entertainment platforms to form a social perspective about the world. The way in which women are presented influences how men and women treat each other and how women think about themselves. In the article “Body dysmorphic disorder: A serious concern for our younger generation”, Ayesha Altaf Jangda and a group of authors, examine the media’s role in determining an individual’s self-image. They conducted a study and asked a group of young women a set of questions that are used to diagnose Body Dysmorphic Disorders. They discovered that the majority of women were dissatisfied with their bodies, “The most frequent focus of concern were: Being too fat/too thin (40%), skin (21.9%), hair (15%), teeth (11.5%) and nose (14%). 25.4% of the students got sad/angry/depressed because of their appearance. The study also showed that 40% of the subjects spent 1–2 h watching television every day, and 14% watching 3–7 h of television per day. 47% also regularly visited entertainment/ beauty websites or read entertainment magazines” (Jangda 1). These statistics prove how media and how women are presented can influence body images. If the entertainment industry portrayed women as equals and without the concept of beauty standards then the percentage of poor body images would decrease. The entertainment industry and media platforms define beauty standards that young men and women learn from. Stereotypical or superficial portrayals of women affect social perspectives, body images, the information we receive, and much more.

Recent headlines confirm that female representation is a impactful issue because the entertainment industry constantly shows us stereotyped or biased representations which affects our mental state, types of news, and social standards these platforms set. These articles demonstrate the impact of the misrepresentation of females and how it affects several areas in our social lives. Media is an influential platform that has affected popular culture for decades. Society tends to promote certain ideals and images to build brands and set expectations for cultures, fashion, and the topics we discuss. While some entertainment platforms have recognized the inequality in the representation of genders in media, we still continue to represent women through stereotypical lens that creates body image issues and contributes to impossible beauty standards. Proper female representation, which includes women of color, would improve the quality of news that accurately represents various communities, body dysmorphia, and social beauty standards.

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