The media has been utilized in most cases to portray different gendered and sexualized norms in the modern world. These norms have been employed by many people ignorantly, into their day to day lives. The portrayals may not contain any grain of truth as they are advertising stunts but most people do take this factor into consideration as they are in constant belief that the media does not lie. The focal point of this paper is on the portrayal of women in print media with particular emphasis on five magazines that encompass InStyle, Glamour, Fitness, Women’s Health and Good Housekeeping. Based on the information extracted from the advertisements in the magazines, there is a clear-cut diverse portrayal of the women in different magazines. The imageries exhibited by the magazines yields varied expectations regarding physical appearance, sexuality, relationships and/or gender roles.
Shivprasad in his post on June 9, 2010, asserted that most people believed that if sex was not used in advertising products such as fashion styles, perfumes and other items, the marketing industry would not have been as flourishing as it is today. This is because products that were advertised using sexual imagery attracted the consumer’s interest for a protracted time influencing the particular individual into purchasing the product (Shivprasad, 2010). Since advertisers use sex to enhance their products sales, they resort to extreme of marketing strategies aimed at obtaining optimal attention from their customers.
In the advertising section of Women’s health Magazine, slender, well-toned full-length images of women are used in weight loss drugs segment to achieve the perfect ‘sexy’ look. This more often than never has a negative impact on women, as they tend to indulge in poor eating habits with intent of losing weight. Young girls are also ensnared in their mind frames, as they equate beauty to lean bodies. Work hard into losing their body weight for they will only look beautiful if they are skinny. Men are not omitted either. This advertisement will have a negative effect on men. This is because they will want to be in relationship with skinny women. The women they will get married to, will be influenced by the images found in these magazines.
In the Good Housekeeping magazine, it is found that when marketers advertise household equipments, they will include images of women who are fully dressed and respectful. This is the reason as to why women are said to be homemakers. These kinds of advertisements will affect women and young girls negatively for they will grow having in mind that their role in the society is to carry out the household chores (Dill, 1986). Gender inequality will come in where women will be viewed as dependents who cannot work for their own money. Young boys will grow up having in mind that women have no power over men for they cannot do anything better than performing household duties. On contrary, in most advertisements men are portrayed as strong. In most advertisements, images of men exposing their masculine bodies are used.
In the fitness magazine unlike in Good house keeping magazines the images used are for thin women. In the magazine, one can find some information like one has to lose weight to look more beautiful or even sexier. In this magazine, weight loss drugs are advertised that are recommended for weight loss. This magazine can be influential in that women are encouraged to take the drugs that can be harmful to ones health. Since the only images used in advertising products in the magazine include images of thin women, it encourages individuals in a given society to pressurize women towards weight loss. These women may end up engaging themselves in poor eating habits.
In her article posted on June 9, 2010, Anita said that advertising without sex would be unsuccessful. She argues that it is because people live in a world that is sex crazed and it is the reason as to why marketers use sexual images in the media. Women are used in advertising certain products like jeans and perfumes. For instance, in the Glamour magazine, women wearing clothes such as jeans exposing their butts are used. This will give the teenagers the mentality that they will look more attractive if they wear clothes that reveal parts of their bodies (Ganesh, 2010). For instance, in such advertisements they may use a woman wearing tight jeans with men fancied by her appearance. Having women being widely used in most advertisements to draw men’s attention portray them as sex objects. This where women will be viewed as people who should work hard towards the improvement of their appearance where in turn they will be used by men in satisfaction of their needs.
For instance, in the Instyle magazine, the cover page has the image of a half-naked woman. This is a proof that fashion in most magazines is associated with nudity. This is an implication that women will look more attractive if only they expose most parts of the body. The marketers make use of the sexy looks that the women have in selling their products. In this magazine, it is found that women cannot be used in advertising other areas that do not require nudity such as career advertisements. This indicates women inferiority in the society.
In most of career advertisements in most magazines, the marketers use images of men. This is where an image of a man who is well dressed in a suit is portrayed as successful with his family. This indicates that the only people who can pursue their careers are men and women will just rely on their success. This is an indication of gender inequality where it is depicted that education is only meant for men only. Women portrayed as individuals who have to be submissive to men for they have to depend on them in the satisfaction of their daily needs. In return, women will have to satisfy men’s sexual needs where men will use them as sex objects. This is an indication that women have no significant place in the society.
Mass media may influence individuals from different ethnic and racial groups in the society including the teenagers. Lately, youngsters have access to media materials where they view most of the advertisements in televisions and in most of the fashion magazines. Different commercial advertisements may have positive or negative impacts to different individuals. Most advertisements portray gender inequality where women are depicted as people who are not educated and their role to the society is to perform household duties.
This is the reason as to why in most commercial advertisements women are found improving their physical appearances to draw men’s attention. On contrary, in most advertisements men are portrayed as strong intellectuals who are domineering (Kimmel & Mahler, 2003). This is the reason as to why men are used in advertising products such as motor vehicles. These advertisements will influence teenagers in the sense that they will grow up emulating the social values and practices as depicted in the media.
In conclusion, marketers should come up with different marketing strategies aimed at improving gender equality. This can be achieved by making use of both men and women from different racial groups in all types of advertisements. Marketers should improve on this area for these advertisements influence peoples ways of lives and specifically the young individuals. For instance, women should also be included in career advertisements. This will have a positive impact to young girls who will be encouraged to work harder in their academic work.
The prevalent focus of both Fitness and Women’s Health magazines was on women with petite figures whereas Good Housekeeping magazines focused on full figured women. Glamour magazine focuses on the portrayal of women as sexual symbols through the exhibition of the highest number of naked or inadequately dressed women. Good Housekeeping magazine on the other hand, enhances a good image for women due to the high number of fully clothed women who form its focal point.
Dill, B. T. (1986).Our Mothers Grief: Racial Ethnic and Maintenance of Families. Memphis, TN: Center for Research on Women.
Ganesh, A. (June 9, 2010). Retrieved on June 15, 2010, from
Kimmel, M.S. &Mahler, M. (2003).Adolescent Masculinity, Homophobia, and Violence, New York, NY: Sage publications.
Shivprasad, Y. (June 9, 2010). Retrieved on June 15, 2010, from
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