The Media's Influence on How Women View Themselves


Only you and you alone determine your worth and beauty

Somewhere in this country, at this very moment, women are gathering at seminars where they’re urged to think differently about themselves; where their inner and outer beauty, intelligence, and grace is glorified; where they’re extolled to live their best lives, believe in themselves and grow. Our power as women is nurtured; we are inspired to arise and conquer old, out-dated moldy opinions of ourselves and blossom like orchards!

These seminars, lovely and useful though they may be, are outmatched, out-ranked, and out-gunned by the thousands of media ads daily streaming on television, radio, billboards and the internet debunking every joyful thing the seminar speaker states about "ideal image". The ads focus on looks, the number one thing guaranteed to grab a woman’s attention. And they tell women:

No, you’re not beautiful, you’re overweight.

No, you’re not sexy - your legs/breasts/thighs are too fat/thin/lumpy.

No, you have ratty hair, you need product X.

No, your skin is splotchy, product Y will clear it up.

You need to exercise more; you need butt injections; your boobs droop.

To prove their point, the ads display either gorgeous, but thin women with beautiful smiles and long, flowing tresses, or exceptionally curvy video vixens (again with long tresses), all prancing around in skimpy clothes or nearly nothing. Their lips are plump, their lashes are full and their teeth are shiny and pearly white. Our lips are cracked, our lashes are falling out and our teeth are coffee-stained. No, we are not beautiful, or so the Beauty Gods say. The media says we suck - we need this, this and that to approximate any marginal level of beauty. And we, like fabled rats following the Pied Piper, march lock-step to the beat of the media's drum. Instead of looking at ourselves objectively, we cave in to all the nonsense, all the hype. To heck with what the seminars tried to inspire in us.

We cannot hide from these messages. They are prevalent and invasive and program our psyches consciously and unconsciously any time of the day or night. And because they are so prevalent and forceful we have silently adjusted our lives to a marketing strategy designed by the media, and allowed ourselves to be lulled into their malevolent marketing trap. We have acquiesced and sworn allegiance to their standards, right or wrong.

Consequently, we fight, fight, fight desperately to keep our image as sharp and youthful as possible. We endure face lifts, breast lifts, tummy tucks, lip injections, liposuction, botox and more, while striving to maintain a dewy facade and stave off the progression of age; all because the Beauty Gods have determined natural aging, with its accompanying crows-feet, wrinkles and jowls, has no place in beauty.

Just as women have accepted the industry’s definition of beauty, men have signed on to it as well, fully on-board with the media’s ideal image of “hot” women. Many women, fully cognizant of whom men notice and fearful of being ignored, do their best, whatever it takes, to be one of the chosen, one of the hotties.

We find ourselves left with a multitude of women who are afraid to accept the beauty they alone possess, preferring to trade it in for something the media has decided for them. . . redesigning lips and noses and eye-lids and cheekbones, all to align ourselves to someone else’s criteria of beauty. Only by creating and accepting our own version of beauty will we break free of the madness.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.