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Popular Culture Vs. Reality

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Popular Culture vs. Reality

Throughout time society has categorized the female gender as inferior to the male gender and men are frequently seen as the dominant group. Mass media plays a significant role in our daily lives since many individuals get ideas and information about people and places they have never seen. Opinions are formed based on the images people see every day in magazines, movies and on television commercials. If the images people see are false and they believe them to be true, then negative stereotypes will be created and maintained. People need to understand that the media cannot perfectly reflect every aspect of society, but those reflections should still try to be accurate. Thus, it is important to look into how the media portrays women. If the only images of women being presented to the public are negative or offensive, sexist attitudes will continue. Today's popular culture tends to view men and women in relationship to each other, but these views are often sexist portraying negative connotations that degrade women and affect their self esteem.

The media in our society sends negative messages about the ways that women should be treated. Women are becoming objectified and viewed as objects with little or perhaps no value. In the book "You Just Don't Understand," Deborah Tannen points out how men often see the world as a "hierarchical social order in which they are one- up or one down" (24). This means that men often tend to be one-up putting women one-down because some men see life as a contest where they have the idea of always appearing perfect and in control. It can lead to men not wanting to feel one down or seen as weak. Negative stereotypes are harmful to society because it makes it harder for people to communicate with each other if untrue beliefs remain in the popular culture. Media creates a bigger gap in communication between men and women by identifying the male gender superior to the female gender.

In society today, the media bombards teens with images and trends because people are influenced on what they should be wearing, what they should be listening to, how they should act, and what they should look like through movies, television, magazines, catalogs, billboards, fashion, and music. Wherever we look these advertisements show many the cultural standards of what we should be like and what is in fashion. The standards that women should be beautiful and sexy with the "perfect" body are present throughout these images. Twelve year old girls start to dress up and imitate many celebrities such as Britney Spears wanting to be like her. On Oprah, there was a show of girls between the ages of ten to thirteen dressing up like Spice Girls, wearing a miniskirt, a tube top, and makeup. Jennifer Lopez, in the movie industry, shows how pop culture depicts women, to have the "sexy" look no matter what they do, as they exercise or just going through an ordinary day. We hear how young girls enter beauty contests and often pretend to be someone fake that does not truly represent them. They model with heels, tons of make-up exaggerated clothes and hair styles. Young girls are growing up with the misconception that beauty is what gives a woman her value since they see this happening on television advertisements (Killbourne). Popular culture has an effect on everyone whether young and old to live their lives a certain way and to meet those standards that are impossible to meet.

Not only are young girls affected by popular culture, but as well old women because of the beauty contests they participate in. Women are becoming objectified and viewed as objects with little or perhaps no value. For example a really popular beauty contest that I am familiar with is "Belleza Latina." This beauty pageant offers fame, money, and a nice big crown to the winner. Many women have to get on crucial diets to maintain a fit body and a decent weight because being fat or a little overweight is not acceptable. These women get criticized for any physical defect that causes them detriment. Beauty pageants degrade women in many ways because women are competing for the same thing, but at a cost since they have to meet the requirements being put upon them. They basically lose their self identity to create with their image a fake image that is not 100 percent realistic. They have to reveal their body and model on bikinis so the audience can identify who is the sexiest woman with the "perfect" body. These women pretend to be the person they are not in order to fit into a culture that they were not brought into.

Popular culture indirectly teaches people how they should act and look like. Movies, magazines, fashion catalogs, television, and newspaper show women to be a sex object, to be skinny and sexy. For example, the Cosmopolitan magazine depicts women as a sex object because it focuses on ways for women to please men. Cosmopolitan supports the hierarchical society of men being the center of attention and the dominant figure. Cosmopolitan should not make women sex slaves for men, since it degrades women treating them as sex symbols and a toy being used for pleasure. Other magazines such as Glamour also degrade women for the simple reason that a beautiful woman is always at the front cover to grab both men and women's attention because it is the ideal women that men want and the ideal women that women often want to be.

Beer commercials degrade women because they use them as their focal point to grab their targets attention, which majority of the times are men. These commercials for some reason always show beautiful and sexy women and the men who drink the beer are generally good looking with a cut up body. The sexist beer ads that ran last football season, specifically



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