From body image to beauty, the media is a large culprit in how women see themselves and, unfortunately, it coincides with their level of self-esteem. Fashion magazines are just one way in which women learn what society’s “idea” of beauty is. And TV is an even bigger influence because it’s accessed even more frequently. So when women are bombarded with images of “perfect” faces and bodies, it’s only natural that the average female may feel a bit “less than” in comparison.
But that’s not the only way in which television is demeaning women, or at least making viewers feel bad. Women watch as other women are pigeonholed into certain categories and stereotypes. And the constant stream of dramatic, “reality” shows aren’t helping matters. Unfortunately, it becomes hard to separate the women on TV and the women in real life – skewing one’s own reality and when things don’t add up, it hurts one’s own image and confidence. It's also important to remember the effect it’s having on teenagers and children as they’re being fed these images from the time they’re able to consciously understand the behavior and expectations. And here are 15 TV shows that may be making women feel bad about themselves and moving these ideals along – whether it’s for stereotyping, demeaning or wrongful portrayals.
15 Two Broke Girls
A lot of TV shows portray women as struggling, silly misfits that need a man for saving or at least for keeping their lives afloat. And although it’s hard to admit that the women in Two Broke Girls aren’t hilarious, it’s just another sitcom that “rides on the success of the female characters trying to make ends meets,” according to Arts.Mic. It’s as if it has become the norm for women to have a hard time paying their bills, unless they’re married – because then the husband can make sure the wife’s daily needs are fulfilled.
14 The Big Bang Theory
This show also promotes the “not better than men” stereotype as the female characters just aren’t as successful as their male counterparts. For example Arts.Mic pointed out, “Bernadette is a microbiologist, but she still had to work as a part-time waitress to get through school. Her fiancé on the show is an aerospace engineer.” Unfortunately, this idea is perpetuated so much on television that women take it as the norm because “that’s how it is in real life too.”
13 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show
Although it’s a yearly program, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is reportedly “damaging to a woman’s psyche,” according to Elite Daily. Women are left to sit and compare themselves to the tall, slender woman strutting their stuff on the runway. And the problem is, these women don’t represent the vast majority of body types. Instead, they represent the perpetuated “perfect” and “ideal” image of what beauty really is. Those at home are left to fall under statistics such as the fact that women are pressured to feel beautiful by the age of 14 and that feeling increased by 90% in their late 20’s!
12 Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Everyone has a lot to say about the Kardashians. And it’s hard to debate that the clan is famous for anything other than… just being famous. In fact, it all started with Kim’s sex tape, beauty and rump. So what does that say about women? And after seasons of the show, The Chicago Tribune announced that “the Kardashians aren’t just trashy, they’re dangerous – actively exploiting and reinforcing racial and gender issues.” Not only are women comparing themselves to this family of gals who are seen as some of the most beautiful - although there’s a constant speculation of plastic surgeries and other procedures – but they’re also learning through their behaviors. Comparing everyday lifestyles to their outrageous ones can also lead to some major envy.
11 The Bachelor
The Bachelor franchise all began with women competing for a man – and why should the ultimate prize be a man? Women at home watch as handfuls of gorgeous women struggle for a chance to catch the coveted man’s eye and work for his … love? When in reality, a woman’s worth is much more than how great she looks in a bikini on camera. There’s no reason one should have to compete for a love worth having and women and girls at home are learning and living vicariously through these relationships. When the fairy-tale doesn't come to fruition at home, viewers are left comparing and feeling low.
10 Desperate Housewives
The women seen on Wisteria Lane are a far cry from the women on the average cul-de-sac in the suburbs – why are none of these housewives seeming to be above a size 4? It’s a fantasy escape for a lot of women at home watching on the sofa, but the storyline also perpetuated stereotypes and beauty ideals for those same ladies. Aside from the racial stereotyping found on the show, The Daily Orange also pointed on the gender stereotyping portrayed. Although it’s easy to say that viewers should look past the surface and just take these shows as entertainment, it’s hard when popular shows are shoved down the throats of society with such force.
9 Bad Girls Club
Here women are again seen – in “reality” – as bitchy, dramatic and trashy. Why can’t there be a show, self-proclaimed reality or not, that portray women in a more sensible light. Educated, powerful and serious are just some of the elements that are missing from most programs when it comes to women on TV. The women on the Bad Girls Club are seen fighting constantly, also pushing that idea that women just can’t seem to get along and will always remain catty.
8 America’s Next Top Model
If women didn’t see it enough in fashion magazine, there is also a show on TV that they can watch as swarms of models compete to become the “top model.” There was even a study done that showed women who were watching felt worse about their bodies, according to Wet Paint. ANTM “increased body anxiety and body dissatisfaction in the viewers.” And it’s hard to be surprised by the findings, seeing gorgeous women on TV being told they aren’t “good enough,” would hurt a lot of mainstream women’s self-esteem by comparison.
7 Wife Swap
First of all, why isn’t there a show called Husband Swap? If the goal is to bring a fresh look and perspective into the family – why can’t the husbands be “swapped” out? Merely the title of this program gives insight to the belittlement of how a woman’s “role” is perceived. This perpetuates the idea that a woman is a expendable piece of the famliy and relationship – and unfortunately – women watching from home feed into it.
6 Jersey Shore
According to Examiner.com, watching this show will have viewers being fed that women fall into two categories, “wifey” and “good time.” Specifically, “meaning that a girl who acts “appropriately” is wife material while a girl who is willing to have casual sex is a slut.” And unattractive females – or those perceived to be by cast members – are dubbed as “grenades.” This entire rhetoric only helps to push the notion that women are only as good as what they look like and what they can do for men. There goes your self-worth ladies!
5 Toddlers & Tiaras
Toddlers & Tiaras may make women feel bad about themselves in a different way than the aforementioned shows. Instead, they may sit there watching these young girls in flippers and feel humiliated that they’ve just binged watched so many episodes of nonsense on Netflix. And if these viewers have ever been “that mom,” read this line from Fox News on the subject: They are sexualizing their young children. Do not be surprised if your child is preyed upon as a result of this high degree of visibility.” How does that make you feel?
Yes, this is a real show and yes, it’s probably about exactly what you think it is. Brides-to-be compete to win various plastic surgeries in hopes of becoming the “perfect” looking bride. Not only does the show glamorize plastic surgery, according to Examiner.com, but it may make viewers at home question their own physcalities and if they’ll need a bit of jazzing up before their own vows are exchanges. These are the type of shows that fuel disorders such as body dysmorphia.
3 Any Real Housewives Show
If you want to see “real” women in “real” life situations, just catch an episode of any Real Housewives program from Georgia to New Jersey! Here, more catfighting and dramatics explode making for “good television,” but also the stereotyping of the dramatics and out-of-control emotions that women possess. Basically, when a bunch of women get together the notion is that they can’t help but get into arguments and obscene behavior.
2 Gossip Girl
It’s hard to hate on Gossip Girl but it’s also not hard to understand the amount of women (and teens) who may watch the show and then feel like Lonely Boy himself. As an outsider longing to be a part of the Great Gatsby-styled world filled with beautiful women, beautiful clothes and money to buy … happiness? It’s hard for women to sit and watch the drama unfold without envying the main characters, Blaire and Serena, for not only their looks but their wardrobes. A popular blogger even admitted to feeling like rubbish after watching the series!
1 Basketball Wives
Similar to that of the Real Housewives franchise, Basketball Wives too promotes the “catty” female stereotype and pushes the thought that women just can’t seem to get along with other women. Even executive producer of the show, Shaunie O’Neal, understands that BW not only can perpetuate a negative look at women but an even stronger one for black women. Making viewers at home, again, get sucked into the societal norm, feeling bad about their gender.