The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Women’s Center hosts Brown Bag Luncheon

On Tuesday afternoon the SMU Women’s Center hosted a discussion regarding “Media and Body Image.”

A group of SMU students joined Debra McKnight, part-time professional staff member at the Women’s Center, to watch Jean Kilbourne’s video entitled, “Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women.”

“This is such a better turnout than last year,” said Elizabeth Barrett, president of the Women’s Interest Network. WIN is a student organization that provides a voice for women’s interests and concerns on the SMU campus. WIN sponsors programs on campus such as “The Vagina Monologues” each spring. Barrett began the meeting by thanking everyone for coming and then McKnight began the video.

The movie explores gender representation in advertising. Kilbourne pointed out that every person is exposed to more than 3,000 ads per day. In her video she also discusses how women are used as sex symbols in order to sell products. Kilbourne said that not only are women portrayed as sex symbols, but that their bodies are unrealistic and send women (particularly young women) the wrong message in regards to how their bodies should look. Statistically, only 5 percent of women have the stereotypical body type used in the majority of ads. She also said that one in every five women has an eating disorder.

The video shows examples ranging from beer advertisements to Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements, all of which Kilbourne says are used to “hyper-sexualize” young women and thus “trivializes” the epidemic of violence against women in today’s culture.

When the video concluded, students discussed the topic at hand. “I didn’t realize it was that prevalent,” said first-year Ashley Giles. When the discussion turned to talk of television programming Giles pointed out “even on the ‘Real World,’ obviously it’s not real portrayal of what people look like.” Lindsay Hogan, a graduate student, said that advertising with sex “elicits an emotional reaction,” and Barrett added that “it starts alienating you at a young age and you already start to feel different, but in a negative way.”

The discussion took a turn when the students began brainstorming ideas that may help students on SMU’s campus to recognize the link between media and body image.

Graduate student Richard Ferry acknowledged that body image may be a more stressful topic among freshmen because “they are away from home for the first time.” It is important to “figure out a way to get to young girls before the advertisements do,” said Ferry.

“It is particularly hard at SMU and we should hit them as first-years,” he added.

Giles said the school should “do something that everyone will see or come in contact with.” The idea of teaching the subject in freshmen rhetoric classes was also mentioned, as well as discussing the subject at AARO sessions where first-years and their parents can both benefit from it.

For information about upcoming events hosted by the Women’s Center email Debra McKnight at [email protected].

 

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