Images of women: Exploring young females understanding of sexualised images in the media
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Images of women are defined as sexualised if the women in the image appear sexually available or posting suggestively. Sexualised images of women are often present in the media and some view these images as empowering and sexually liberating for women. Some think that such images objectify women and contribute to a false perception of beauty. The aim of this study is to explore young women’s understanding of sexualised media images of women. There were 13 female participants aged between 18-25. 3 focus groups were conducted and analysed by thematic analysis. The 6 themes identified were positive representations (body confidence and taking control of sexuality), self-esteem in terms of body image (effects on young girls, insecurities and pressure), unrealistic images of women and factors contributing to likability (popularity of model in the image, range of women and link to product) and desensitised to sexualised images. Images of women in the media need to carefully examined as it can have negative repercussions for women in terms of self-esteem and objectification. If women are desensitised to images it questions how far advertisements will push boundaries to shock audiences. Images can harm the status of women by reducing women down to sexual objects or it can free women from traditional stereotypes by allowing women to display sexually liberating behaviours. Therefore, future advertisements, or celebrity role models posting sexualised images on social media, need to ensure that these images represent women in a positive light, so that young girls do not have negative feelings while viewing them.
B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology
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