I truly think women in the media can be both empowering and enraging, depending on the situation. There are some television shows/movies/ads that present women in a positive way and some not so. In some media portrayals, they make all the girls look pretty, skinny and tall, which in reality, doesn’t represent most of us. This makes some women/teens think that’s what everyone wants, so they strive to be someone they can’t possibly be, which of course, doesn’t end well. And the way that women portray themselves in media can play a big part in how women are perceived. If those women promote the negative stereotypes that are typically assigned to women, then it’s not going to have a positive effect.
In some media women are portrayed as empowered. Girls and women of all different sizes, races and appearances are featured in ways that counter act the negative stereotypes. In books and movies, some have multicultural or brave female characters which represent women in a good way, rather than the old “Damsel in Distress” stereotype. I’ve been reading lots of books lately where the female character is the heroine. I’m not talking about Nancy Drew, my mom’s favourite series as a girl, but I books that boys read, too. Divergent by Veronica Roth features Tris (Beatrice) Prior who is short and when she looks at herself she sees a girl who isn’t pretty and that looks like a little girl with eyes and a nose that are too big. Maximum Ride by James Patterson features Nudge who is African-American and insecure about her wings. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins features Katniss who has straight long black hair, olive skin and is generally malnourished because of her district’s poverty. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare features Isabelle Lightwood who is quite tall, with dark hair and eyes and who has some body issues towards the end of the series; as well Clary Fray who is short, with green eyes and red curly hair and is stubborn.
All of these authors have portrayed these girls in a way that readers can identify with. They shatter the old stereotype of the heroine having to be tall, beautiful and full of confidence.
By guest blogger and Pathfinder Sarah. Don’t miss out on reading Sarah’s previous GirlGuidesCANBlog: Online Privacy: A Girl’s Perspective.
I’m not sure I agree with the phrase ‘the way women portray themselves in the media’, if I’m honest. I agree that that the way women are portrayed in the media can be problematic, but I am uncomfortable with chalking that up to the women themselves, particularly in a culture where the media could (reasonably) be described as a patriarchal institution. It’s important to be enraged at the appropriate target.
That said, I am in favour of the sentiment behind the post 😉 I like my characters realistic. I also like them to at least taste empowerment and confidence, even if they don’t exude it throughout the story! (This is similar to the way I see the girls I come into contact with through guiding – it’s important to me that they find their true identity and grow to believe in themselves, whether they turn up at the first meeting ready to rule the world or unsure of their part in it…)