In articulating a “sexual politics,” feminists have had to confront deeply conflicted associations of women with the body. (Henry, 1994, p. 272). The earliest civilizations both venerated and feared women’s generative power. According to historian Gerda Lerner, worship of the great goddesses in the early Middle East celebrated the sacredness of female sexuality. (Henry, 1994, p. 273). And since women are negatively impacted by images in the media that only sporadically promote and more often demote a healthy body image, the media should reform these images.
This is the thesis that this paper adopts and supports, with particular emphasis on the eating disorders that arise because women have to cope up with the pressure and stresses that society and the media bombards its women citizenry. There is a need to change media’s approach to women’s image as sexual objects. The Woman’s Body and Consumer Culture dates back to the past. Along with medicalization, commercialization, has exerted increasingly powerful influence of the cultural meaning the female body.
By the 1900s economies driven by marketing linked images of woman with products that seemingly had little to do with sex-from cars to mouth wash to cigarettes. Thus, playing on the female body as a desired sexual object, advertising and popular culture was saturated by Western media with images and innuendo. In her 1963 treatise the Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan dated this “sexual sell” in the United States to the years after World War II, but the practice had originated by the 1920s. An early cigarette ad, for example, showed an alluring man who begged men to “blow a little smoke my way.
” (Friedan, 1983, p. xi) In popular culture, songs about “hot lips” and “baby face” reached wide markets through radios and phonographs, displacing earlier religious music or secular anthems to motherhood and chaste sweethearts. Whether trough ads or in the World War II photos of pinup girls, the postwar boom in pornographic magazines, or the lyrics to rock and rap songs, eroticized images of women sold products (Boorstin, 1974). It will be seen as one does the research on this topic that the sexualization of women in popular culture had particular racial connotations.
A long-standing Western Association of Africans with primitive sexuality created receptive audiences for African American entertainers. In the 1920’s French audiences cheered Josephine Baker’s erotic dance performances, while in the United States Ida Cox sang about her sexual prowess in “One Hour Mama” (“no one minute papa ain’t the kind of man for me”). Along with exuding sexual power, however, these performers could reinforce the image of black women’s sexual availability. Over time, most popular music about women of color perpetuated sexual and racial dominance.
In their 1971 hit song “Brown Sugar,” the Rolling stone exulted male mastery over a young female slave, including a chorus invoked the sound of his nightly whipping of a sexually a appealing young girl. More recent rap lyrics castigate as women as bitches and whores. Like advertising the Western Pop music now so readily available around the world sends a message that women of color are both sexually desirable and subject to conquest. Images of female bodies proliferate and media relishes that as it employs even movie stars to endorse products.
(Beauty and Body Image in the Media). By the end of twentieth century the sexual sell had infiltrated vast a regions of the world, wherever markets for Western popular culture expanded. A 1987 study of Japanese soft-drink ads found that over one-fourth displayed women in bikinis. Soon after communist China allowed private market, sexualized female images proliferated there as well. (Beauty and Body Image in the Media). An ad for Chinese tire factory, for example, showed a seductive young women wearing a miniskirt and high heeled shoes.
While some cultures resist the trend, tight pants, bare bellies, and female cleavage have become international marketing tools that highlight the female body as a commodity. (Beauty and Body Image in the Media). This research is of interest because it strives to evoke an imperative for the health units of the government, and the rest of the society, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other concerned youth and health sectors, to prevent the health and body image problems from spreading its tentacles among American women, and, in effect, all women in general.