By Alexis Schulz
The media’s “miss” interpretation of women sends an implicit message that in order for a woman to be considered beautiful, she must be perfect, according to three panel speakers who spoke to students on March 19.
Hilary Beard, Tawanna Coleman and Aliya Crawford discussed the effects of the negative representation of women in the media. The event for Women’s History Month was hosted by the Women’s Center and Office of Multicultural Affairs.
“Businesses are only concerned about making money,” said Crawford, senior vice president at W&W Public Relations. Her clients include Patti LaBelle, Alicia Keys, Rasheed Wallace, Bow Wow, Ciara and Kelly Rowland.
Coleman, a writer, publicist, event planner and brand marketer who has worked for Sean “Diddy” Combs and Queen Latifah, stressed that the media show women in provocative advertisements all the time. After viewing these ads, the public starts to think of women as objects rather than human beings.
“You have to believe in your core values,” said Coleman. “The media isn’t real; you have to trust your intuition.”
Beard is an award-winning writer, author, editor and book collaborator, specializing in health and wellness. She has written for numerous magazines, including Dr. Phil, Essence, Ebony, Health, Heart & Soul, Plum and POZ. Beard said women need to stop punishing themselves for being unable to look like these fake “media-created” women.
“Women need to become self-protective,” said Beard. “These images are not real people, and they should not be viewed as such.”
All three panelists said television shows have a huge impact on how women are viewed by society.
“The television show Scandal would be much different if the lead character wasn’t a black woman,” said Crawford. “This show is popular because of this character and how she is presented.”
The show focuses on Olivia Pope, former communications director for the president of the United States, who runs her own crisis management firm.
Beard also said that women need to become more dominant in male-led fields.
“We need to stand up and allow ourselves to achieve whatever we want to, regardless of social norms,” said Beard.
The three panelists agreed that negative connotations of women could be irreversible.
“Removing the negativity is not easy and may never be achievable,” said Crawford. “The main thing is to realize that these images are not of ‘real’ women.”
Coleman said that men especially need to realize what the media have done to the female image.
“Even though I was the only guy there, I felt like the event changed how I look at women,” said Nick McManus, a freshman computer information systems major.
“Men take in these advertisements and feel like their woman isn’t good enough,” said Coleman. “I feel that men need to understand that no woman is perfect, and that these images they are seeing are edited so much that the original woman pictured is unrecognizable.”