Essay about Media Representation of Women of Color is Low

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Media is an important component of American culture, from the music people listen to the movies they watch, the media people consume can and does consistently affect their views of the world, other people, and themselves. Women can be hurt by the media, and closing in even more, women of color. Representation in media is still quite low, despite how far America has come in terms of equality. This leaves the levels of exposure to races other than white relatively low and when there is representation of other ethnicities, they are often caricatures of demeaning stereotypes. No matter if someone identifies as European American or as another ethnic identity, the European American ideals and norms affect everyone who is exposed to them (Iijima-Hall 1995:9). Consistent exposure to this style of media can be damaging to self-images of women of color and their personal perceptions of beauty, though it often manifests in different ways among different ethnic identities.
In the past, race could be so narrow a definition as to indicate what country a person was from. It could also be an indication of class in many ways, as anyone not of certain European descent was often considered of lower social standing, particularly during the times before slavery was outlawed. In modern times, this definition has fallen by the wayside and instead we use nationality to indicate a country of origin while race is considered a broader term. Race is defined by as “an arbitrary classification of modern humans, sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or a combination of various physical characteristics, as skin color, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequently based on such genetic markers as blood groups” (, race). This c...

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..., but can be particularly harmful to women of color who are not always represented. Some will resort to rejecting the ideals set by the white majority and look to those who they do feel fall into their own ethnic identity. This can still be harmful when such people are being shown as something they are not, like with whitewashing on magazine covers. Other women can internalize the beauty ideals to a harmful degree and attempt to attain them at great cost, developing eating disorders or undergoing surgical procedures in order to try to align their own appearance with what is considered beautiful in their society. No matter how it occurs and what shape it takes, representation in media of women of color is far too low, and when it does occur, it can still be harmful by creating characters that are not at all representative of the people it is supposed to reach out to.

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