Photoshopped Images and Double Standards: Depictions of Women in the Media

Are enough women in charge of the media?

I don’t think so.

This morning the number one video on YouTube that popped up on my AOL home page was a raunch fest called Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe.

I’m not linking to the video because I like it or approve of it in anyway. Just the opposite. I’m pointing it out because we need to see what our kids are watching and what they are talking about. My gut reaction: OUCH.  It’s painful to watch two iconic women belittling themselves by talking trash.

I love sex as much as the next woman. Sex is fun and exciting but this video, which has racked up over two million hits and counting, screams that women are dirty, crude, and crass. This message can’t possibly help our kids to connect with one another in a healthy way.

Why turn Cleopatra—a historic world-class leader, a ruler of an empire, and, dare I say, a feminist symbol—into a sleazy, humping gyrating caricature spewing angry, foul language? And then, to make matters worse, she faces off against an equally offensive Marilyn.

You might think women are in even more trouble after watching the new HBO series, Girls. The episodes that I’ve seen depict empty sex, and project a general malaise that makes the young women on the show feel utterly hopeless.  Frankly, the one girl who falls in love with a boy is a superhero compared to her peers. And she’s downright wholesome next to the hollow, vulgar characters on the YouTube video.

Are we BA50s paying attention? We better be. What kind of legacy are we creating? We are supposed to role model good communication skills, highlight the nuances of being in a healthy relationship and emphasize the importance of being respected and being respectful.  We have a responsibility to respond to this latest onslaught of women demeaned on the Internet and television.

The other night I saw a piece on Hillary Clinton in which her appearance was scrutinized to the point of ridiculousness. She was returning from a particularly, grueling trip to China. The focus of the report should have been on her diplomatic skills, not on the trivial fact that she was wearing glasses instead of contact lenses. Does it really matter that she wasn’t wearing makeup? For goodness sakes, she was in a suit not in her sweats.

I think our Secretary of State speaks for many BA50 women when she says, “I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now because if I want to wear my glasses, I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to pull my hair back, I’m pulling my hair back. And, you know, at some point, it’s just not something that deserves a whole lot of time and attention. If others want to worry about it, I’ll let them do the worrying for a change.” Shame on the press for over-emphasizing what was arguably a less than put together “look.”

As I posted a link on Facebook to another article that made fun of Hillary’s appearance, I got angry all over again about this tempest in a teapot. Judging from the responses to my posting, BA50s unequivocally agree with me and Hillary.

It’s important for us to go public with our outrage when women are not appropriately recognized for our accomplishments. I want to open up a dialogue on the BA50 Web site that confronts the skewed portrayal of women in the media. Let’s make it loud and clear that attempting to sideline a woman with superficial comments about her hair and her style won’t work.

When a woman has something important to say, I have no doubt that she’ll get the word out and she won’t do it in a vulgar, misogynistic YouTube video.

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Photoshopped Images and Double Standards: Depictions of Women in the Media was last modified: by


Felice Shapiro

Felice Shapiro Felice Shapiro loves figuring out what's next. Felice writes with honesty and humor about real life events, romance, tragedy, reinvention and family not to mention — fashion, beauty & travel. As a serial entrepreneur in the publishing space, she launched to meet the needs of women entering their next phase at 50. Inspired and armed with her love of publishing, writing, start-ups and women’s issues, Shapiro launched an online magazine for 50-something women to share personal stories, successes and relevant issues. She is proud of BA50 which is in its 4th year and has over 7 million unique visitors. 

  4 comments for “Photoshopped Images and Double Standards: Depictions of Women in the Media

  1. May 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    As a 51 y/o black male I see a parallel universe in the depiction of women in media. I see it everyday on the 5:00 p.m. news when it is imperative that they find the most illiterate african american male with missing teeth to give their eye witness account of a tragic event. It is very hard when the term “black style” is defined by the sub-culture of hip hop, as if any culture can be defined by a small part of itself. The problem I experience is that women like african american males are complicit in their own oppression. At the same time the movie “Missrepresention” is being released, women are driving the incredible sales of “50 Shades of Gray. In my own social economic group I give compliments to mature women only to have those compliments be looked upon as my own misguidedness. Most mature women I know obsess about their wrinkles or their weight or their need for breast enhancement. As movie stars go I so admire the women of foreign films. They are so not afraid to go without make up and so not afraid to allow the talent to speak instead of their looks. The french often go with women who look “quirky” or have something about their looks that seems out of place. From an observer on this side of the isle I see women who decry male misogyny participate in the feminine equivalent. Women will drool and make sexual remarks about the hot young new employee and openly talk about their sex toy parties in places of employment. I long to have grown up discussions about love, sex and relationships, however not many are able to discuss those subjects beyond a middle school level. I am a huge fan of TEDxwomen. I have yet to meet a woman who has even heard of it. I have not been in a serious relationship in over 10 years. I look and I am as active as a 35 y/o and refuse to date in the younger demographic. However the 50 and over group of women aren’t much better with their increased level of insecurity. Just take a look at the magazine MORE. All the advertisements are about looking younger and feeling younger. All external fixes. Nothing about developing the depth of a woman. I wish someone would write a book called “The way of the superior woman”. Like David Deida’s “Way of the superior man”. If women could read such a book they would learn that confidence is a woman’s best and first quality that men admire. When men watch porn and visit dance bars, they are going to watch women who have enough confidence to know who they are and what appeals to them. It is such a shame that there exist an entire culture of women who have a diamond on their left hand who are clueless about the man who shares a bed with them, who took vows with them, who fathered their children and yet they know less about them than the girl on the pole. “Oh honey! you so know me, I waited an entire year for you to cook me a special dinner for our anniversary and yet billion dollar businesses exist because men know exactly what women want when anniversaries come around. Flowers, Diamonds, Plays, Five star restaurants all based on the fact that men know what women want. When will women as a culture grow up and figure it out. It has been said that women give sex to get love and men give love to get sex. When do women ever give love outside of loving the kids. Women always give the reason for getting large alimony settlements as… they stayed home and raised the family. Just once I would like to hear a woman claim she is deserving of a large payout because of the love she gave her husband and the powerful effect it had on the man who now wants to leave. Btw. I found Hillary Clinton so damned attractive with her hair pulled back with no makeup and wearing glasses. A woman like that who moves and shakes the world surely would not be obsessing about how large her ankles are in the sack. So disappointed that she us much more a woman than her husband is a man.

  2. Caroline Grant
    May 24, 2012 at 7:24 am

    I am sick of women being demeaned! Nuff said!

  3. September 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I do think we women over 50 bear some of the blame for the way things are. We ourselves often don’t buy products that feature older women. I just looked at a fashion layout on HuffPost50 and the girls in the feature were all barely 20. This was specifically supposed to be a post about fashion for women over 50.

    The models on the box of skin cream I just bought doesn’t look a minute over 26.

    Until we start taking ourselves seriously nobody else will. We ourselves lap up the articles that criticize other women.

    “Who wore it best?” Who the hell cares???

    Why do we women buy magazines by the millions that have such insulting layouts anyway?

    We pour over photos of celebrities criticizing them for having too much work done, but then next month we tsk tsk that they “aren’t aging well”.

    We need to stop this misogynistic shit ourselves first. Maybe then we can get the world to stop it too.

    • lormek
      October 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Well said! Thank You.

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