Have you ever thought about the impact that media has on the images of the world we have? More importantly, have you ever thought about how powerful media can be in shaping the images we have of ourselves? Ads are selling more than products; they are selling concepts, feelings, and images of success, love, sexuality. Media are setting certain norms in society. But how does it all affect women? How are women in media portrayed? And, above all, what message does media send this way?
Jean Kilbourne in her famous talk says that today’s media has an extremely negative impact on women’s self-esteem. Women in media are ideal; they have a perfect figure, flawless face, beautiful hair and everything else that falls into the category of the ideal beauty. However, in reality, these beauty standards are impossible to reach. Moreover, girls from the very young age learn that they have to invest large amounts of time, money and efforts to fit into that category of ideal beauty. Otherwise, they lose their value and they will fail in life. But those standards are absurdly high, and almost inevitably set all women to failure.
Here is the video where Jean Kilbourne talks about this issue. What do you think?
International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on how far we made it in terms of moving to gender equality. For example, there are more girls in school than ever before. More women are doing paid work and in senior roles. Further, some harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.
However, we still have a long journey in front of us; headlines and public discourse about sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination against women remind us of it every day. More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. Many women still suffer harsh and inhumane treatment through to continuing discrimination in the workplace. Examples are countless.
Make This International Women’s Day All About Taking Action
Our goal as a society should be to empower all women to recognize their potential and stop being afraid or ashamed. We should make our collective goal to encourage women in all settings to become aware of their rights and claim them without fear. So, this 8th of March, think about what you can do to make a small step towards making this world a better place for girls and women in your community. Think globally and act locally – you can make a huge difference.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization. It belongs to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
– Gloria Steinem