Stereotypes, Stereotyping and Ideals Essay

5008 Words21 Pages
Various sources indicate that female body images presented through models, mannequins, and even Barbie dolls are strikingly deviant from the actual female form. One such example occurs in the January 1998 issue of Marie Claire magazine, which states that the average American woman is 5’4” and a size 12. She has a 37-inch bust, a 29-inch waist, and 40-inch hips. A mannequin is 6 feet tall, a size 6, with measurements of 34-23-34. A life-size Barbie doll would be 7’2,” with bust, waist, and hip measurements of 40-22-36, respectively. A woman of these measurements would have to walk on all fours to balance her disproportionate body. Considering that Barbie’s physical characteristics are outrageous and ultimately unattainable, how has she come…show more content…
The harmful implications of ongoing exposure to these unattainable ideals, such as low self-esteem, eating disorders, unhealthy body image, and increased acceptance of violence, make urgent the need for change. How does a society go about changing such long-standing norms? In light of its pervasiveness and highly influential nature, the media may be the proper place to begin changing gender stereotypes.

When considering issues of gender, one must first consider how and where differences in masculinity and femininity come about. Although masculinity and femininity are achieved through various actions, some attribute characteristics of gender to innate, biological criteria. David G. Myers comments on such attributions in “Social Psychology,” when he writes that “the persistence and omnipresence of gender stereotypes leads some evolutionary psychologists to believe they reflect innate, stable reality” (337). Anthropological and evolutionary studies show that even the earliest societies supported the same gender hierarchies as those evident in today’s culture, many of which are based on biology. Interestingly enough, studies show that males have consistently dominated such hierarchies. As S. Goldberg writes in “Feminism Against Science,” “[A]mong all the thousands of societies on which we have any sort of evidence, there have never been any Amazonian or matriarchal societies. The hierarchies of all societies have always been dominated by males” (4).
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