What the media is doing to women… and men

A highly thought-provoking video about the insidious effects of  media on female self-esteem and men’s views of women.

Ads sell more than products; they sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps most important, of normalcy. To a great extent they tell us who we are, and who we should be.

But what does advertising tell us about women? It tells us, as it always has, that what’s most important is how we look. So the first thing the advertisers do is surround us with the image of ideal female beauty. Women learn from a very early age that we must spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and above all money, striving to achieve this look, and feeling ashamed and guilty when we fail….

You almost never see a photograph of a woman considered beautiful that hasn’t been Photoshopped.

Jean Kilbourne

Some may argue that these predilections of the media are driven by the highly visual nature of male attraction towards women, by male superficiality. But my response is that it is driven by naked greed as well, the desire to sell a product as effectively as possible – to hell with women’s self-esteem and health. If our rival has made a woman look impossibly beautiful in their ad, well we want our ad to make a woman look even more impossibly beautiful.

Certainly, men are instinctively superficial in the way they view women. It is hard-wired into our genes to look for certain signs of fertility, such as a waist-hip ratio of 0.7. However, men can and do learn to look beyond physical attributes. It is not only stunning women who have boyfriends and get married. Advertising and the constant stream of Photoshopped images, though, make it so much harder for men to overcome their superficial instincts.

May I add that the media is also giving men a complex. We too are assailed by a stream of images of the perfect male body and male face. The aesthetically-enhanced male Korean pop and TV stars, for instance, attract hysterical female attention and relentless raving. I have met not a few men whose self-esteem has been hurt by pictures of other men with stunning features, flawless skin and ironclad six-packs. Granted men are not under as much pressure as women to look good, but I just wanted to point out that men too are not immune to the “tyranny of the ideal image of beauty”. What can we, women or men, do about it? Something to reflect on.


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About gptuitionsg

A dedicated English and GP tutor with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, Steven Ooi retired from the profession after a 14-year career during which he was one of the most sought-after private tutors in Singapore. He is the recipient of the Minerva Prize from NUS, which is awarded to the top English Language honours student of each cohort. This website, which has consistently ranked among the top 10 on Google and has received over 530,000 hits, has now been converted into a GP resource site cum listing of recommended tutors. If you are a GP or English tutor who wishes to be listed here, please email Steven Ooi at stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Interested parties will be assessed and interviewed by him, and qualifications will be checked. These procedures are necessary to uphold quality standards. DISCLAIMER: While every reasonable effort has been made to assess the competence and verify the qualifications of recommended tutors here, no guarantees are made and you engage them at your own risk. By using this website, you agree that you will not hold the webmaster Steven Ooi responsible for any consequences — direct or otherwise — that occur in relation with your use of this website.
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1 Response to What the media is doing to women… and men

  1. Mr Seah says:

    A female GP student once told me: “I think we (girls) understand that our guys won’t look as good as celebrities, but I’m not sure if the boys understand that. They’re a bit slow, la.”

    Food for thought 😉

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