Growing up Female in America in 2011

Growing up a female in today’s day and age is quite difficult if you ask many people. There is the pressure to be perfect in every aspect whether it’s school, how you look, or how you act. Media today has played a very big role in shaping our minds causing us to conform to the person that we are not. Magazines are filled with stick thin girls with flawless faces and perfect hair, resulting in us wanting to be just like them. We strive so much to be like these models, that we convince ourselves into thinking that if we can buy the products they are selling and wear the things that they are, then we can be just like them, until reality sets in and we realize that all of these things are manipulated.
Women in society today are taken for much less than what they are actually worth. In the advertisements and commercials that are put out, women are used only for their bodies to try and sell the product they are advertising. Instead of showing our intelligence we are used as a sexual reference. For example a burger king advertisement for the BK super seven incher. The ad shows a woman with her mouth wide open to the sandwich, and in big letters, it reads IT”LL BLOW YOUR MIND AWAY. Unfortunately, these kinds of images are the ones that sell the product. These kinds of images also put a lot of pressure on women, trying to fit in, and trying to conform to what society wants every woman to look like. Some women end up living their life through their children. An example would be the show Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC. These little girls are put into beauty pageants and end up looking like Barbie dolls with their hair done, makeup painted on, and many other ridiculous things that 4 and 5 year olds should not be doing. These pageant mothers put so much stress on their children to be perfect and win all of the competitions so that they can know what it feels like for once to be on top, even though they aren’t the ones who are in the pageants.
The pressure to be perfect occurs mostly in teenage girls at school however. The way media has represented women and teenagers in movies, shows, and commercials, it has taken away from learning at school because they are always worried about how they look, what other people think of them, and how many guys they can get to talk to them. In 2008, a 16 year old girl was gang raped at a party by three different guys. Three of the guys were arrested however one of the three named Rakheem Bolton, who was a basketball player at the school, where “H.S,” (name given to the girl) cheered, was given probation for two years and a fine and was let go. At the school a couple weeks later, Bolton played at a basketball game for the school at which H.S was expected to cheer for him. She refused and was kicked off the squad. She was then expected to pay for the attorney fees and the lawsuit which was $45,000. It is ridiculous that she was essentially “blamed” for being raped because she had to pay the price for it, literally. Society has made it almost “ok” for men/guys to perform these different acts without being questioned.

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Representation of Power

Teenagers and Women have been most easily targeted for the issue of power in today’s society because throughout history men have always had the power and always will. Men are at the top of the media ladder, and are the ones who control what is shown on TV and movie screens. As a culture we have been taught that power goes with men, and they are the ones who have the authority. Although nowadays teenagers and women are the focus in most TV shows, movies, and advertisements they still are not the ones associated with power.
When analyzing some of the ads on under the power category I found that many of the advertisements that represented women as “powerful” still were stereotyping women. Many of the ads had to do with shopping and beauty related items which in reality don’t represent power.One of the ads shows a woman standing on a flight of stairs advertising a perfume called longing, with text above the picture of the bottle saying "make a man remember."This ad only furthers the stereotype of women not having power and trying to use their sexuality to lure in a man. It’s already a known fact that men hold the power and whatever women try to do it is all just artificial power. This is very well represented in a documentary call “MISS Representation” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. This documentary talks about how women are represented in society and are worth only their youth, beauty, and sexuality, and steers women away from being leaders in society.

Teenagers today are also at the bottom of the ladder along with women in the power struggle. We have many authority figures that we have to be answerable to such as parents, teachers, principals, and bosses. About a month ago there was a story that was all over the media from facebook to the news about James Tate, a teenager who asked a girl named Sonali Rodrigues to prom, however trespassed onto the school while doing so. “This all started with Tate and his friends going to school at 1 a.m. on Friday and taping cardboard letters onto the wall of the school saying: “Sonali Rodrigues will you go to prom with me? HMU – Tate.” Him and his friends were banned from going to their senior prom, however a facebook page was made to fight for his right to be able to go along with his appearance on the today show making a “national plea.” The legislator and governor were thinking about making a law just to let him go to prom and the governor stated "While it seems that there are rules that were broken, in this case, it doesn’t seem as though the punishment fits the crime." This story represents the power of teenagers and the authority of others over them. Teenagers don’t have a lot of power and this could very likely be the reason why we are so tech savvy and facebook obsessed because it’s the one thing that we have the power to control. WE control who sees what and what we put on our profiles.

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Representation of Difference

As we have grown up, we have always been taught to be ourselves and to make sure that we were unique; however media today has distorted this idea and has learned to group people together assuming that they are all the same. This is especially true with how teenagers are represented in the media. There is a certain age bracket from about 15-18 that has been clustered together and generalized for everything from how they dress to what they do to even how they act and what they say. They are so easily targeted because essentially they can’t speak up for themselves and when they try, they either prove their point or are never heard.

Many of the shows and movies out there today that are associated with teenagers represent them as either pregnant or sex and drug crazed kids who don’t care about anything but having fun. These representations stray far away from the reality of how teenagers are. Skins, a TV show that plays on MTV is a perfect example of this representation. It shows teenagers partying every night doing drugs and having sex not caring about anything else. As I said before the media likes to assume things about a group of people, when clearly this is not true. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are a lot more mature than the media portrays them as. They are applying to college and deciding what they want to do with their lives, yet are still depicted as party animals.

For teenage girls, it’s more difficult because of how media has represented women, and how the perfect girl or woman should be. In the article “The Media Distorts Teenagers,”Gohar Gaylan talks about how the media contradicts itself in magazines and TV shows. “On one page of a teen magazine, it says that it doesn't matter what you look like because you are beautiful the way you are. On the next page of the same magazine, there is an ad for Cover Girl makeup and the following page has a guide for losing weight before summer.”A lot of these shows illustrate young teenage girls getting pregnant and thinking about getting married because women have been put on a pedestal for their sex appeal and how they look, only resulting in young teenager girls wanting to follow their exact footsteps. A perfect example of this is the show The Secret life of the American Teenager where the main character Amy gets pregnant at 16, and has to continue on with her life while her friends are enjoying life in high school having fun. .Sex has been glamorized by the media; however its repercussions have not been taken into account.

Teenagers associated with sex is not the only thing that has been replayed over and over again on TV though. When teenagers are shown in TV shows and in movies, it is assumed that they have to belong to a certain group. If they don’t belong to one group, they are considered losers. The most stereotypical groups are the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds, and many more. Although high school does have some cliques, it isn’t as extreme as the media portrays it as. In a documentary about high school kids called American Teen, a few kids are picked out, one from every so called clique and followed around to see how their lives actually are, showing that they live the lives of every other teenager in the world. The title of the documentary itself means something because it assumes that all American teens are like this and have to fit into at least one of these groups.

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Connection To Another Student

“Today’s “ideal” teen that everyone wants to be is tall-but not too tall, thin-with curves in the right places, popular, athletic-but girly, wearing the right kind of clothes, and having perfect hair and appearance. This puts a lot of stress on teens today and with no help from the media, this only makes things worse.” Brianna couldn’t have said this better, because nowadays every teenager wants to be exactly like what they see. Magazines and TV shows do nothing but make teenagers feel self conscious and bad about themselves always trying to reach a level that really is inexistent. Teenagers are always dealing with the pressure to be perfect no matter where they are. Everywhere they look whether it is magazines, billboards, or advertisements there are images surrounding them with the message to be thin and flawless.

“If you look at the magazines being displayed on the racks at stores today, you are bound to see women on the front cover. What really stands out though, is the print surrounding the picture. Say you look at a “Seventeen” magazine, what do you see on the cover? A skinny teenager. What types of words surround the picture? Words such as “flat abs and a great butt,” “672 ways to look pretty for spring” and “the cutest clothes.”” This quickly catches the eye of a teenager and they believe that if they read the article and do exactly as it says they will achieve the same results as the model in the picture. This idea of wanting to look and be the same as everyone else makes us conform to society, and doesn’t let us show who we really are but rather who society wants us to be. No matter how hard we try though, we will never be exactly the same as the models on these magazine covers because truth is, they aren’t even real. We cannot be something that they are not.

“The media has teenagers (especially female), in the palm of their hand, playing them like pawns on a game board. Whatever the media says, the teens will follow.” I’m not sure what more the media could do because I believe that this has gotten worse over time. Teenagers have lost their sense of identity and have conformed to be like everyone else. What happened to being unique and showing off your talents? It seems as though this generation has grown up with a different ideology than previous ones and will do anything to get that high status no matter how much they may be manipulated.

Refer to : Brianna