Stereotypes. We get them everywhere. We get them from our parents, our peers, and even strangers. I am sure, however, we can all argue that the media has had the biggest influence on how we see others yet. We live in a world where it is not only full of media but also with stereotypes that are cultivated through it. At a certain age, we begin to start thinking of outside opinions which then affect how we perceive the world around us. In addition, because of our constant exposure to modern technology, media has become an easy way for us to be persuaded about what the social norms are. Sure, media can be a great way of communication and being exposed to diversity. Even so, these stereotypes that are formed can be misleading and reinforce false beliefs about how people belonging to a certain group need to look, think, and behave.
Gender and sexual orientation are the most common categories of stereotypes that can be found in the media. All types of media, such as social networking platforms, magazines, newspapers, and television shows have contributed to how we view these genders. For example, there are advertisements that promote male and female products in colors that are typically associated with a specific gender; blue for male and pink for females. Likewise, other common ideas suggest the need for men to be tough and muscular whilst females should be skinny and more “fragile.” Stereotypes can also come in the form of toys: Action figures, most often dark and violent, are for boys, whilst Barbie dolls, bright and friendly, are for girls. Eventually young kids who do not like the “right” thing are more susceptible to bullying. “I used to get bullied when I was young for being loud and acting like a tomboy,” stated Rachel Toh, a current high school student attending a local school in Singapore.
2. Physical Appearance
Although the main motive of advertisements is to convince us to buy their products, models are often meticulously hired to represent society’s definition of “perfection,” which can sell negative and unattainable goals to the general public. For instance, the average female fashion model wears a size two or four, while the average American woman wears a size 12 to 14. These ads that reflect “false body image” are not realistic or an ideal representative of the general population. Even so, they still have far-reaching effects, with the most common one being that kids get bullied for looking far out of reach compared to a “normal” person. “I remember seeing kids in my class getting bullied for being more overweight compared to others,” said Lee Seojun, a 17-year-old male student in South Korea.
3. Culture & Race
Stereotypes are often used in media to describe people belonging to specific ethnic or cultural groups. Take television shows, for example. They oftentimes portray Americans as being the outgoing, carefree individual, while Asians are seen as more timid and reserved. Research shows that these portrayals can affect how children think and how they behave towards people based on their skin color and racial identity.
I may have only highlighted three forms of stereotypes in this article; however, there are still many more that remain unmentioned that media has been responsible for. Though some may argue there are positive aspects to media, this does not excuse us from ignoring the effect media has on today’s generation and our society.