Killing Us Softly

Killing Us Softly

How media and industries are the result of self-affirmation
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Since the beginning of television and media, industries have been shaming women's bodies and making the “ideal” body for women quite impossible.

Recently, it has become extremely aware that models of our generations are becoming smaller. Whether it is for an advertisement for “Gucci” where you can see a young girl’s ribs and pelvic bones, to “Victoria Secret” ad where the models look sickly. In the video, “Killing Us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne, shows how the television and media world have been steadily making the women’s body something that isn’t healthy nor realistic.

While watching this video, you can see that this issue has become quite worse as the time continues on. Not only are women bodies turning into stick figure shapes, but they are now being turned into objects. Whether it’s for a beer advertisement where the woman changes into a keg or it’s for an “American Apparel” ad where the woman’s legs are high in the air for a boy to be holding them.

Due to this unrealistic realization, young girls from all around the world have succumbed to eating disorders and slowly starving themselves into something that is quite impossible.

According to the film, gender roles are frequently taught through the media and the expectations of women have become a standard for young girls. Girls are expected to be skinny, yet not too thin, classy, but wild, and naturally beautiful, but not fake. The standards that the media and industries put forth can be impossible and dangerous for young girls to achieve.

This is how eating disorders and self-esteem issues comes to hand. Kilbourne states how it’s “…sexy to look like a little girl” according to the media. In the film, this statement is followed by an abundance of photos of women that have been formed into a “small” or “inferior” figure. The picture that was drawn to me was one where a model was hunched over to look as if she was a small object trying to disappear.

This model was extremely skinny and being hunched over, you could see her ribs and the slimness of her waist. All women are not supposed to fit this body type. Like Kilbourne states, women bodies are all different. This only leaves women and girls from around the world in a state of depression because they can’t fulfill the societal needs. The thing that continues to run through my mind happens to be that it isn’t only girls and women that need to fulfill societal needs.

Women being ashamed for their bodies also affects men because men are looked upon as animals. Media and industries advertise their products by using girls and women in a sexual way, which draws men to buy their products.

This is usually effective with males, yet one problem for women is being degraded and with these advertisements, they illustrate men objectifying women. I don’t know what’s worse. Having someone rope me in with all of my gender and looking at us like were all animals or having someone constantly degrade me.

From seeing in stores the isles of boy toys versus girl toys to having parents expect boys and girls to play different sports. Men are taught at such a young age that being muscular, stern, dominating and able to take charge is how they are supposed to be. Men are expected at a young age to play football or baseball, sports that categorize them as strong and powerful because sports like these make a young boy more masculine.

Young boys are constantly taught that being superior is the way of life for them. In photos of male models, you can see how their stance indicates superiority and how being masculine sells a simple pair of jeans. This affects men because they are taught that being emotional will be detrimental for their future life. That if they show their emotions or wear their heart on their sleeve that it will affect the way that people look at them.

They are taught this at such a young age by media, television, and even other peers that constantly reinforce the views of media. Men and women are influenced by whomever they surround themselves with and because of this you can see the extreme gender socialization that becomes aware through the media. Each gender is expected to perform certain roles and this only causes men and women to feel like they have no other option then to be what society wants them to be.

Personally, I liked the film because of the awakening affect it had on me. Being a girl, I have always wanted to look like the Victoria Secret models and be tall and skinny.

After watching this film and listening to Kilbourne discuss how media impacts our views on our genders, I am able to see how media is one of the main reasons that young girls in our generation suffer from self-esteem disorders. Kilbourne argues against the media and she provides evidence to back it up, which only allows the audience to fully understand her views.

This film counteracts society’s views, which allows the audience to take a step back and rethink the way that society has affected them. For me, I thought that the best part of the film is when Kilbourne says, “feminism is an individual self-expression is more likely to sell baubles and Botox than it is to do what we set out to do so many years ago, which is to change the world”. This one statement spoke to me the most because attending a liberal college, I’m constantly surrounded by numerous young girls who talk about feminism.

I support the true meaning of feminism and how the original meaning was to change the world for young women, yet feminism has begun to be thrown around as just another word. When in reality, it’s a whole other story. Jean Kilbourne may not be able to change the way media portrays men and women, but her spreading the awareness of this could save numerous lives.

Once the world sees how the intentions of the media are falsely advertising society’s needs, I believe that the freedom of loving ourselves and our self-worth will become more apparent to individuals who are struggling.

I chose two advertisements from Vogue magazine that I thought represented the message of “Killing Us Softly”. In the first picture, the model is hunched over and hiding her face as if she’s trying to shy away from the camera. Like I stated in the previous paragraph, models who are bent or hunched over have this state of inferiority towards whoever is viewing the picture.

In the second picture I picked, the model is dressed like a young girl painting. She’s wearing long socks and has a blank facial expression on her face. The message that both of these ads have, is that the model in one of the pictures is hunched where she’s hiding her body, while the other model is perceived of being a young girl that is supposed to be viewed as “sexy.”

I picked the first because in my essay, a model being hunched over really spoke to me the most because of the way media and industries are portraying girls as inferior to the outside world. I picked the second ad because in “Killing Us Softly” Kilbourne discusses how women are being shaped into young girls through media and industries.

Cover Image Credit: gabby powell

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Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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