Growing up Female/Male in America 2011
America's modern adolescent population has a plethora of influences that accompany them on a daily basis. One of the central pillars of teenage influence in America is the media. From television to newspapers, from magazines to billboards, and from the radio to advertisements in the most unlikely of places (urinals, for example), it appears almost impossible for American teens to completely avoid the media on a daily basis. Because of this constant bombardment of messages sent to teens through the media, and due to the fact that the media often twists the truth to create a more appealing and often false image to show to teens, a large percentage of America's teen population has had negative influences on them. Heres a few facts and statistics to show just how negative these influences have the potential to be:

Advertisements are making there way into every part of our lives.
The following article discusses urinal advertisement in more detail. wanted to link this article not to just show urinal advertisements themselves, but to also illustrate how the media is forcing its way further and further into the lives of citizens as time progresses. Personally I don't recall something like urinal advertisements in effect 10 years ago.



  • According to the national institute on Media and the Family, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.
  • In a recent survey by Teen People magazine, 27% of the girls felt that the media pressures them to have a perfect body.
  • Many males are becoming insecure about their physical appearance as advertising and other media images raise the standard and idealize well-built men.
  • Researchers are seeing an alarming increase in obsessive weight training and the use of anabolic steroids & dietary supplements that promise bigger muscles and more stamina for lifting.
  • A study of 4,294 network television commercials found that nearly one in 4 commercials included some type of sexual attractiveness as a base for the message.
  • The Mediascope National Television Violence Study found that many of the programs that children watch send the message that a conflict always involves a winner and a loser.
  • On television, perpetrators go unpunished 73% of the time. This gives the message that violence is a successful method of resolving conflicts.
  • By age 18, the average American child will have viewed about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone.

It is clear that the three main paths of influence the media chooses to follow are body image (often unrealistic), sex, and violence. Here's a few examples of how the media is portraying these significant topics today.

In this ad, we can see how the media relates sex to male body wash, making it more desirable by the male target audience.

In this ad, we get the message that the key to being happy is sexual attractiveness. This is one of the many examples of the shallowness of the media.

In this ad we see violence taken to an extreme, on a kids toy ad nonetheless.

Representation of Power
American media is very consistent with regards to which gender almost always holds the power in most commercials, magazines, etc. That gender is male. We see time and time again in ads a depiction of a male figure dominating a female figure. The female is often depicted as a vulnerable, obedient individual, while the male is made out to be dominant, in charge, and above the female. Many ads depicting male dominance over females are often intertwined with sex or fashion. The media supports strongly the phrase "sex sells," often combining sexual implications with male dominance over females in an attempt to attract the attention of a potential customer. What's strange about sex and advertising is that companies advertising their products really don't limit themselves when it comes to what they choose to add sex appeal to. Companies will incorporate sexuality into anything from clothes and perfume to things like body wash and even fast food items. It's interesting to consider why the media feels sex is the thing that will most draw customers in and in turn, buy their products. One reason why it is possible that sex sells so well is because physical attraction is desired by most everybody. When the media relates sex to their products, they are placing the idea in a consumers head that the product could potentially give off sex appeal or otherwise fulfill a sexual desire. The exaggerated, unrealistic picture that the media has placed in many consumers heads about how someone of a specific gender should look and act/respond, especially in relation to the opposite gender, is an unfortunate byproduct of the media's realization that sex really does sell. In the below examples, we can see how the media exploits things like fashion and fast food to relate sex to their product. The ad on the far left is clearly implying that the sandwich can be equated to a male part. Note the obedient, expectant expression on her face. The ad in the middle depicts a male being above the female, more powerful and dominant. Why this would make someone want to buy Gucci products more than if the two were standing next to each other, at an equal level, I don't know. The last pictures basically shows a glamorized gang-bang, again equating it to fashion. The girls position is extremely vulnerable, almost like she is being taken advantage of. I understand that the media uses attractive models for their products to make them look better, but that doesn't make it OK to completely stereotype an entire gender. All three of these ads clearly illustrate two very differing roles depending on what gender you are, and it's time the media starts to acknowledge more realistic depictions of each gender.

I wanted to link this article because it talked about sexist ads. Although it referred to events in the UK, I felt the article discussed one significant issue very well. It talked about how the Advertising Standards Agency required certain rules be upheld with regards to causing offense based on sexual implications, but how in practice the agency was essentially very lax when it came to ads bordering on the offensive side, mainly due to the fact that the Advertising Standards Agency is paid for by the ad industry itself, who in turn write the rules for limits on ads. It seems to me as if the advertisement industry is extremely self-sustaining, allowing for greater flexibility with what it chooses to depict in its ads.

Representation of Difference
I think one way in which difference is represented in America today that not many people consider to be as important as other differences is Ageism. The definition of Ageism is: prejudice or discrimination on the basis of age. As a teenager in America, I find myself and my friends victim to ageism on a daily basis. I experience ageism through things like the drinking age, gambling age, trying to get a job, etc. The list goes on and on for things that someone a 17 year old like me can't legally do. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing; It's important to limit certain actions an individual is allowed to do until they are responsible or experienced enough. However, setting an age in which people are allowed to do something can often prevent people from doing things even when they are perfectly capable of doing things. Why does the state I live in, for example, allow me to operate a dangerous, 4000 pound vehicle a solid 5 full years before I can legally drink? This is because the state legislatures have felt it necessary to place full blanket bans on several different things until citizens reach a required minimum age. Also, why do Americans over the age of 65 get government funded health care while I have to pay for my insurance for the next 50 years or so? Is medicare not another form of ageism, allowing citizens of a certain age readily available health care, social security, etc, while denying me medicare? Many places of work will implement a forced retirement, requiring employees to step down if they've reached a certain age and are still working at the place of work. Again, I'm not saying that these things are necessarily bad, and it's certainly important to take into account certain factors that affect one's life based on their age. I'm just pointing out the some of the numerous examples of how age can affect your life through one form or another of ageism. With regards to the media depicting age, just to give an example, I often see commercials involving skin products designed to eliminate certain features that come with aging, like wrinkly skin. This is a natural physical process that occurs when anyone ages to a certain extent, and yet the media exploits these potentially "unsightly" features by claiming they have products that make you look 10 years younger. This is just one example of how the media can be ageist while simultaneously advertising to a certain age group, sending the message that they need to look younger if they want to still be considered attractive, while doing nothing to an aging face would make you much more unattractive and less happy with your appearance.


I just wanted to link this brief article that discussed a few advertisements that could easily be construed as ageist to some extent, and most importantly it claimed that the ads reflected a general lack of respect and fear of aging.

Connection to another student wiki
I noticed in Rachel Weston's wiki, in the Teenagers Growing up in America section, that she briefly talked about how teenagers in America were often considered dumb, uneducated and weak. I think it is clear that there is, to some extent, a lack of faith in American teenagers and their ability to be responsible at a younger age. Certain ages were legally put in place to prevent teens from doing certain things, and I think this is a good example of ageism in America. The general view on teenagers is that they are irresponsible, uneducated and inexperienced, and as a result, many American teenagers are forced to wait longer than completely necessary to be able to do things older Americans can do.