17 – Examine the portrayal of women in different parts of the media. Compare the image of the “ideal woman” to that of the real woman.
Question how those mages may unfairly portray women.
Internet Access (optional)
Women are portrayed in many different ways in both traditional and online media. Instead of focusing on their achievement, the media often focuses on their looks, clothing, relationships etc. This activity gives young women an opportunity to contrast and compare the portrayal of women in a variety of media and discuss their opinions on what they discover.
Collect a wide variety of media to use for the activity. This could include tabloid and broadsheet newspapers (both local and national), fashion and beauty magazines, sports or music magazines, catalogues (Argos, Littlewoods, etc.).
Senior Branch members can be asked to bring these in in advance, or anything else which they feel is appropriate.
If internet access is available this activity could also be widened out to include websites, social media etc. But for ease of keeping focus it might be simpler to use media that can be found in hard copy.
Go through the different media and tear out examples of women being portrayed in different ways.
Cluster the articles/images to see what the recurring themes are. Some themes which might emerge include women working in the home (housework, parenting); women’s bodies (diets, shape); women’s achievements (sport, careers); overly sexualised images.
Discuss how SB members feel about the way in which women are portrayed and how this might impact on how they are perceived day to day.
If the discussion is waning, suggest that girls find one image which is most like them, and one which is least like them.
If members are keen to take this activity further, see the “take action” section of the Free Being Me programme for ideas of action projects.