The Media Monster- Portrayal of Women in our Society
For a very long time now, I have kept my feelings bottled up and never truly expressed exactly how I feel about the way the media has been portraying women for the last several decades in our society. I guess it's time I voice my opinion and HubPages is a great place to do it. I am not the type of person who loves a debate. I'm just writing about the way I feel about this particular issue. It's okay if we disagree.
As a teenaged girl growing up, this constant media that focused on women's looks kept me in constant turmoil. It was on the TV, in magazines, on the radio. Stick thin women modeling clothes, flawless faces advertising make-up, etc. Here I am over 20 years later and as far as I can tell, nothing has changed. In fact, this media attention towards certain types of women continues to get worse, in my opinion. My 18 year old daughter has grown up in this society and I constantly wonder if she is secretly harboring shame, like I used to because I couldn't be the perfect woman according to society's standards.
Maybe it was just me. Was I much more sensitive than other girls my age? Did other young girls hate themselves as much as I hated myself back then? Did they feel the same way I did about not measuring up? Are there young girls today who feel like they don't matter because they don't look like the models in the magazines or the girls on TV or whatever? Are there girls out there that are a size 7 that secretly hate themselves and withhold eating or throw the food up after they eat because they believe they are too fat to be important or that they would never measure up because they are not a size 0? Absolutely! Nothing has changed. If anything, it's even worse, and I hate it. I'll tell you exactly how the message of the media affected me as a teenaged girl:
Low Self Esteem
I didn't think very highly of myself in the first place so I always looked for outside sources to make me feel better, I suppose. I never felt like I measured up. I was completely insecure. Some people took it as shyness but it was much more than just being shy. I didn't feel worthy and I was deathly afraid of rejection. It was much safer just to stay to myself.
Poor Body Image
I was a size 9 and later on went up to size 14. I thought I was completely fat compared to the advertisements. Somehow I got it into my head that everything in life revolves around being skinny and looking perfect. I can't believe everything I did to myself to try to achieve that perfect weight so life could finally be good for me. I keep looking at pictures of myself back in high school and I do not understand how I could have EVER thought of myself as fat.
Anorexia and Bulimia
In order to obtain that perfect weight, I did terrible things to myself. First it was the diet pills. One three times a day. Breakfast a piece of toast with a slice of cheese. Lunch a side salad and dinner a cup of soup. Then to the track every night to walk as many miles as possible. Then came the small white pills that gave me lots of energy. I took those in the morning and drank 2- 32 oz. cups of water. Water helps us lose weight, right? For lunch I would be feeling sick so I would eat a small hamburger from McDonald's and then when I got back to school from lunch, immediately everyday I had to vomit that up in the bathroom. I did it not because I was sick but because I couldn't possibly lose weight if I kept any food in my stomach. It had to come out immediately! Then I discovered water pills.. I didn't want any water weight for sure! It seemed no matter what I did that I could not achieve the perfect weight. Looking back, I don't think I would have been satisfied if I was a size 0.
In high school I was introduced to alcohol and I felt like I had truly found the answer! Every time I drank I felt great and I didn't have that feeling that I didn't measure up. I decided this was the solution to all of my troubles. Drinking made me feel pretty and I finally felt like I was one of those girls on the magazine cover.. this was it! So began my drinking career.
I have to say that I truly feel sorry for a boyfriend I was in a 2 year relationship with in high school. I put him through hell that no one should ever be put through. I was extremely insecure and in the core of me was a rage that just wouldn't stop. He was supposed to pay attention to me, not other girls! I imagined things, I blew things out of proportion. How dare he tip those girls at Sonic!! I would just go off on him and break down. If he didn't give me enough attention, I thought he hated me. After all, I hated me, why shouldn't he? The good news about this is I haven't had this rage or insecurity to this degree for a long, long time now. You can read here about how the rage came to an end if you are interested.
I know I can't blame everything on the women in the media but back then it really affected me and my life really did revolve around around trying to be the perfect weight, look the prettiest and things like that. I think now that I've gotten older I realize that there are just more important things in life than trying to look perfect. In fact, I may have gone too far in the other direction of not caring but I'll find a balance. Back then I just didn't have enough maturity to understand that. It really took me quite some time to realize that it just didn't really amount to a hill of beans. In fact, I think the most important thing I've learned is there is just no such thing as perfection. It just does not exist among humans.
Watching my daughter grow up and seeing her at the age I once was, it just worries me. Although, she is much, much more healthy minded and adjusted than I was at her age, the media still continues with this message that only those skinny, perfect women matter in this society. If you are not a size 0 and flawlessly beautiful, you just don't matter much. I know that really isn't the truth but for our teen girls, growing up in all this, I think it's confusing and there is no question that it is harmful- at least to some of them. I wish the media would portray normal women or at least stop airbrushing and making these women look like they are flawless when they really have flaws just like everybody else.
My husband and I were talking about it the other day. I guess some things will never change. When it gets right down to it, sex sells and it's all about money. I don't really ever see it changing but I hope we can at least bring more awareness and teach our young girls that there is no such thing as perfection and it's not really all about physical appearance. It's what is inside the really counts the most.