Women have been misrepresented through media for years and it only continues to worsen. The media sends dangerous messages to young women by creating a consciousness that not only causes these women to be insecure but to believe they are not good enough without sex appeal. Deriving in the 1990’s reality television, specifically, has taken a toll on young people, especially young women who are growing up to believe that their purpose in life consists of only beauty and perfection.
The voices of women are not truly being heard because when you think you are finally watching “reality”, you are actually being manipulated into thinking those are real-life situations- well, they’re not. Reality t.v shows are actually scripted. They create fake situations in order to get “real reactions” but these reactions result in what the producers push to promote- sex, drama, and violence, enervating the true definition of womanhood.
In Rise of a Raunch Culture, regarding the effect of reality t.v on women, Ariel Levy writes “I’d walk down the street and see teens and young women — and the occasional wild fifty-year-old — wearing jeans cut so low they exposed what came to be known as butt cleavage paired with miniature tops that showed off breast implants and pierced navels alike. Sometimes, in case the overall message of the outfit was too subtle, the shirts would be emblazoned with the Playboy bunny or say Porn Star across the chest.” This is what these shows are teaching young girls- to dress with as least clothes as possible and to be seemingly available, because that’s the only way you can get attention, right?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon and webmd.com, since the birth of reality television, the rate of teenage girls with eating disorders have tripled and the number of women having cosmetic surgeries has risen over 48%. Besides the beauty aspect, violence has been a huge issue in the world of reality t.v.
Shows that aim towards younger audiences are now airing more violent and disturbing scenes, many with women taking their aggression out on other women. Take The Real Housewives of Atlanta for example. Recently, one of the casts, Porsha Williams was charged with battery and assault for physical harming another cast mate during the Reunion Show. These are women who are supposed to be portrayed as classy ladies yet they are being depicted as trash in the end, damaging the minds of other young women who look up to them.
Another show based solely on women and containing probably the most violence in reality television, The Bad Girls Club, is based on “bad” girls trying to become “good”. However, the entire show is centered around drama and violence, with a lot of “jumping” which involves a group of people beating up one helpless person. In recent headlines, there was an all-girl gang in Bayonne, NJ who are wanted after slashing a girls face with a knife and jumping her and her friend outside of Hudson Lanes Bowling Alley. They go by the name “B**ches Gone Crazy” or BGC Posse. Their acronym however, looks all too familiar. The show The Bad Girls Club uses the same exact acronym. Coincidence? I think not. The actions of the girl gang mimic the actions of the women in the reality show, only more violent and detrimental.
“Reality TV creates a more competitive society and one that accepts aggression, instead of punishing it. It instills the value that you have to be pushy and use lying and deception in order to become successful. Also it allows a decrease in morals. Humiliation of others is seen as something that can gain one more power and a sense of superiority. Overall it makes society more competitive and creates an attitude that it is acceptable to do whatever necessary to get ahead in life.”( Sarah Wagner, Reality Television and the Effect on Society)
Here are two clips from MissRepresentation, a film based on “exposing mainstream media and it’s underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America”:
In order to change the voices of women in reality t.v, we have to actually take a stand and SPEAK UP. The stories that are being told are through men’s points of view which are then acted by women. If we want the representation of women to be a true one, then we have represent ourselves and stop letting men dictate our lives and destroy our images. Here is a non-profit empowerment group of six college students, five who are women. Their story is the epitome of the type of reality television that can cause a revolution for not only women but human beings as a whole.
(2013, 05). The Real Effects of Reality Television on Society. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 05, 2013, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/The-Real-Effects-Of-Reality-Television-1684043.html
LIEBERMAN, DAVID. “Report: Reality TV Encourages “Mean Girl” Behavior In Teens – Deadline.com.”