The Media: Sculpting Our Minds and Bodies

By Carley Kukk ’19

Media is everywhere. It influences the way we act, think, and function. Whenever I go to the gym, I generally see the guys gathered near the weights and the girls near the cardio machines. This “unsaid rule” of where you should work out based on your sex is formed from the gender normative stereotypes that have been molded into our minds through media.

In my lifetime, I do not recall how many times I have heard a girl say she “doesn’t want to lift weights because she will get too big and muscular.” It is for this reason that I usually see girls using cardio equipment rather than machines designed to define muscle, for if a woman is strong and muscular, she is not feminine. This twisted idea comes from a skewed conception of what it means to be a woman. Look around. Plastered on every billboard is a tall, thin, and toned model advertising products that don’t have anything to do with sex. Not only do these advertisements and billboards objectify women’s bodies, they define femininity in our society. If someone who self-identifies as a woman does not fit these descriptions, she is not beautiful according to the media. Her body is merely in the process of achieving the end goal of “beauty.” The idea that a woman who does not fit this mold may be considered less feminine, is absurd and completely false. A woman’s femininity is self-proclaimed and defined. No billboard or inanimate advertisement should be able to affect one’s idea of a woman or how one should treat their body.

Men face similar issues with body stereotypes. Certain facets of male identity are considered attractive in society while others are considered weak. The ideal body standard for a guy is strong and buff. Media imposes this false representation of the male body through a range of advertisements such as beer and deodorant commercials. If a guy does not fit the ideal mold of a man, he is considered feminine, which is ultimately considered an insult.

Why is it that if women are strong, they are manly, and if men do not have protruding muscles and veins, they are feminine? Masculinity and femininity, in reality, are words created by society to categorize people through harsh gender expectations. The advertisements that support sexism and stereotyping are so prevalent in our lives, sometimes we lack to see even the most seemingly obvious suggestions, such as the divide between girls and guys in the gym.

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