Media stereotypes are inevitable, especially in the advertising, entertainment and news industries, which need as wide an audience as possible to quickly understand information. Stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person or group of people—usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation. But stereotypes can be problematic. They can: •reduce a wide range of differences in people to simplistic categorizations •transform assumptions about particular groups of people into “realities” •be used to justify the position of those in power perpetuate social prejudice and inequality More often than not, the groups being stereotyped have little to say about how they are represented.
When we talk about magazine there is lot to tell. First let us see what a magazines are publications which may be weekly, quarterly, monthly or bimonthly which give lot of information, education and entertainment. They are everywhere. It has been one of the most influential forms of journalism, reasonably withstanding even the pressures and easy access to people.
Magazines are full of useful information and juicy gossips, two things people apparently cannot live without.
Some magazines also seem to be dictating unrealistic gender stereotypes, sending subliminal messages to both men and women. After perusing three different magazines the conclusion might be drawn that magazines are portraying men and women in a unrealistic terms, providing messages to men and women about how they should look, act, shop, etc. The femme fatale, the super mom, the sex kitten, the nasty corporate climber. Whatever the role in popular magazines are full of images of women and girls who are typically white, desperately thin, and made up to the hilt—even after slaying a gang of vampires or dressing down a Greek legion.
Many would agree that some strides have been made in how the media portray women in magazines, and that the last 20 years has also seen a growth in the presence and influence of women in media behind the scenes. Nevertheless, female stereotypes continue to thrive in the media we consume every day. STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN Images of female bodies are everywhere. Women—and their body parts—sell everything from food to cars. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller and thinner. Some have even been known to faint on the set from lack of food.
Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last twenty pounds, they’ll have it all—the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career. Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger and more mature than any of the models? The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits.
And it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. If not all women need to lose weight, for sure they’re all aging, says the Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health in its 2001 report Changements sociaux en faveur de la diversite des images corporelles. And, according to the industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with. Jean Kilbourne concludes that, “Women are sold to the diet industry by the magazines we read and the television programs we watch, almost all of which make us feel anxious about our weight. UNATTAINABLE BEAUTY Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.
Jill Barad president of Mattel (which manufactures Barbie) estimated that 99% of girls aged 3 to 10 years old own at least one Barbie doll. 3 STEREOTYPES OF MEN Media analysts and researchers argue that media portrayals of male characters fall within a range of stereotypes. The report Boys to Men: Media Messages About Masculinity, identifies the most popular stereotypes of male characters as the Joker, the Jock, the Strong Silent Type, the Big Shot and the Action Hero. The Joker is a very popular character with boys, perhaps because laughter is part of their own “mask of masculinity. A potential negative consequence of this stereotype is the assumption that boys and men should not be serious or emotional. However, researchers have also argued that humorous roles can be used to expand definitions of masculinity. The Jock is always willing to “compromise his own long-term health; he must fight other men when necessary; he must avoid being soft; and he must be aggressive. ” By demonstrating his power and strength, the jock wins the approval of other men and the adoration of women. The Strong Silent Type focuses on “being in charge, acting decisively, containing emotion, and succeeding with women. This stereotype reinforces the assumption that men and boys should always be in control, and that talking about one’s feelings is a sign of weakness. The Big Shot is defined by his professional status. He is the “epitome of success, embodying the characteristics and acquiring the possessions that society deems valuable. ” This stereotype suggests that a real man must be economically powerful and socially successful. The Action Hero is “strong, but not necessarily silent. He is often angry. Above all, he is aggressive in the extreme and, increasingly over the past several decades, he engages in violent behavior. Another common stereotype… The Buffoon commonly appears as a bungling father figure in TV ads and sitcoms. Usually well-intentioned and light-hearted, these characters range from slightly inept to completely hopeless when it comes to parenting their children or dealing with domestic (or workplace) issues. Although most contemporary research on the portrayal of masculinity in the media has focused on violence, research has also begun to examine the portrayal of masculinity in men’s magazines such as Playboy, Maxim, GQ, and Esquire.
These magazines, which focus on matters such as health, fashion, sex, relationships, and lifestyle, play a part in defining what it means to be a modern man. Some critics argue that these magazines represent an improvement in media portrayals of gender since they focus on topics previously thought to be solely the concern of women. Thus stereotypes can be seen in magazines. To a large extent women are portrayed as inferior to men and men are always on the top position.
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