Today in the media, there is a problem that is more prevalent now more than ever regarding the self-esteem of women who consume massive amounts of media daily in this modern time (Newsom, 2011). The media subtly advertises images that indirectly negatively affect the confidence of young women through promotion of different variations of societal expectations surrounding sexualization, beauty standards, and body image. In this day and age, more people have access to mass media than ever before in history. Currently the media pushes a high sexualized depiction of women to endorse an image that exhibits the male perception of what women should look like (Newsom, 2011). The purpose of the majority of images that center women in publishing today is geared towards the male gaze. This teaches impressionable young women that all decisions regarding appearance even in an intellectual setting is for the purpose of staying appealing to men (Newsom 2011).
The value of a woman in society is not measured by education, achievements, or income like it is for men. A woman’s worth is decided by how well she can adapt to societal norms surrounding beauty. The pressures women face when dealing with societal standards varies by culture but in all they all deal with the same struggle. The younger women are the stronger desire they have to conform to the standards that they are made aware of as young as seven years old. The issue with that is, these same young children have no knowledge of the art of photoshop and digital editing which causes them to develop unrealistic expectations of beauty (Newsom, 2011). This does not only negatively affect females. The same images young girls see while going through puberty, young boys absorb at the same capacity. Males see digitally altered images of women from a young age and in result cause them to judge women more harshly due to impracticable standards.
Examples of popular shows promoted for teens that contain high sexualization and unrealistic images are Gossip Girl, Riverdale, and Pretty Little Liars. Gossip Girl was a show for teenagers that ran from 2008-2012 and was highly successful. Though the TV show is beloved by many it had several oversexualized scenes involving “teens” that garnered media attention. It showcased images of teens having sex, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and even doing stripteases in bars. On the show Pretty Little Liars there was an infamous storyline that involved an adult teacher engaging in statutory rape and an inappropriate relationship with his teenage student; one of the main characters (Smith, 2017). Riverdale is the most recent television show for teens that has gotten massive attention recently in the media and also controversy for illustrating numerous scenes deemed unsuitable featuring female teenagers engaging in high sexualized behavior and another predatory relationship between a student and a teacher (Russo, 2017). One of the main underlining issues with teenagers shows that has been brewing for decades is lack of actual teen actors in teen shows. Though there are legitimate reasons why older actors are used on set (laws surrounding minors working long hours, completing required school hours and guardianship) it still gives impressionable minors a specific perception of what they are supposed to look like.