by Nicky Kaufman
For C-Block of Gender in Society Day, Feminism Club and Media Literacy club invited Michelle Cove from the not-for-profit Organization MEDIAGIRLS to discuss the way both males and females are portrayed in the media.
Junior Alexia Perides, an officer of Media Literacy Club, said that she invited Cove to speak because she thought that Cove would give “clear and graspable ways that gender portrayal shows itself in popular culture.”
Cove began by asking the audience what the media portrays to be “beautiful.” Various students responded that women should have “straight hair, nice teeth and large breasts” while men should “be tall and have big muscles.”
Cove commented on how many views on appearance are dictated by the media, such as by posters, television and popular style magazines like Us Weekly and Glamour.
Much of popular culture’s interpretation of beauty is unrealistic, according to Cove, and the impact that the media has on “what’s beautiful” can have a lasting effect on teenagers and young adults of both sexes.
According to Cove, the amount of of girls worried about their appearance at 13 years old is 53 percent while that number increases to 78 percent by the time those girls are 17.
Boys, too, are affected by media portrayal of men, with 18% of boys reporting that are concerned about their appearance and physique.
The concerns of boys and girls about their appearance has also led to an increase in surgery, with cosmetic surgery for children 18 years and younger climbing 300 percent from 1997 to 2007 with breast augmentation surgery for children 18 years and younger jumping 600% in the same time period.
In order to prevent children and teenagers from worrying about their appearance in comparison with the media, Cove urged the audience not to “buy in” to the media’s portrayal of beauty and to not focus too much on beauty magazines and products.
“We need kids to stop worrying about the hair color and breast size and thigh gaps that the media puts out and just focus on being kids,” she said.