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Inappropriate depiction of women in media

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Beenish Saleem |

Female bodies have been used in the Media Industry for centuries. Each and every ad casts a young and beautiful female model to sell its products. In this manner, Ads are normalizing the objectification of female bodies. Whether it is an ad of razors or it an automobile, presence of a female model seems mandatory. Considering this, feminist have extensively studied the representation of women in media and have run many campaigns in the past, regarding the unnecessary depiction of women bodies in TV commercials and films. However, this issue has received little attention in Pakistan.

Television ads are creating a flaw in the society by conveying the message that suggests that women, who use certain products will be more likely accepted in all social settings, with greater attention and a successful marital life. They also play a huge role in setting unrealistic standards of beauty. For example, the ads of shampoos, beauty cream, soaps and other products depict a thin girl with the perfect figure, bouncy and silky hair, fair and spotless complexion and sharp features. This is a way to normalize and legitimize the sexuality and objectification of women’s body.

Ads not only sell products but they are also selling female sexuality. These types of ads have also created negative social impacts on the audience. As a result, people are more concerned about outer beauty and physical appearance than inner beauty and character building. Such objectification of women’s body and vulgarity is promoting the culture of rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, extramarital affair and so on.

This results in a number of psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, inferiority complex, isolation and eating disorders. The time for change is now before we sideline another generation of women, who can only go on to spread an open-mind and economic wellbeing.

Moreover, women’s unnecessary depiction in TV ads is a sign that we consider women just as mindless sex objects. We are not giving them chance to show their intellectual abilities while teaching little girls that they have little of the offer in terms of knowledge and academics. There has been a need for change for centenaries. Pakistan, already late on the path of equality, has recently seen some of the ice seems melting, with women in more challenging roles.

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However, there are still ads in large number which are enhancing the stereotypical roles of women and promoting a negative form of sexuality. With this in mind, there are some ads in which a woman’s presence is necessary. These consist of cosmetic products for women and other such products, but in the ads of the automobile where women are not shown as a bike rider or car driver, but a mere puppet sitting on the back seat of a car or motorcycle to showcase her body,  is simply ridiculous.

We are so used to it that we can’t imagine an ad without a woman. Similarly, the ads of men undergarments or perfumes don’t need any female model but yet we see a beautiful female model in a side role in ads of products only associated with men. This is how our media is using female bodies to attract the customers. In my opinion, the image of an ideal woman, as presented in advertisements and another popular form of media, relegates women to mere objects of desire, leisure, and sex rather than people with emotions.

Television commercials intensify and legitimize female bodies as a spectacle, for both the female and male gaze. Television in Pakistan is creating an illusion that success of a woman solely depends on her physical appearance. The key concern here is to spread awareness and encourage women in terms of their intellectual abilities, telling them that they’re worth more then what is being presented in media.

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They are as intellectual and capable as men are and the type of,  female bodies and physical beauty shown on Television are not real or natural. Their faces are perfected through cosmetic surgeries and makeup, which are not easily accessible to ordinary women, so the vast majority of women remain deprived of getting the ideal beauty standards set by Television ads. This results in a number of psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, inferiority complex, isolation and eating disorders.

The time for change is now before we sideline another generation of women, who can only go on to spread an open-mind and economic wellbeing.

Beenish Saleem is an educationalist and an activist for education. The views expressed in this article are authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.


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