Transnational Scope

The Unrealistic Portrayal of Women in the Media: Beauty and Body Image


Vixen Resistin’

In correlation with previous readings and texts by Audre Lorde, Murali Balaji of Penn State University reviews the post-hip hop era along with the redefining of black womanhood in hip hop music videos. The idea of who controls the images displayed in the media is heavily prevalent, leading to the idea behind the study as to describe the “self-definition” of black women and the exploitation of their sexuality amongst current hip-hop music videos.

This displacement of the discourse of African American women has created a sense of otherness throughout the community, leading other women to see and group all women of color into the category of degraded women used in the music industries videos. Black women have been controlled by these images presented in the mass media, showing them to be strippers and hoes, as examples of “animal sexuality”.

Women’s bodies are seen as a commodity, to be used, produced, and dominated by men and the public eye, rather than being seen as an equal human being to that of men. While women are taken back into this scope through hyper sexuality, men are elevating themselves through hyper masculinity because not enough women/organizations are standing up to change the rights and portrayal of women, allowing men to create a dominance hierarchy for themselves.

In closing of the article, Balaji discusses the idea of gaining empowerment amongst women and the importance of it. She touches on the basis of women artists empowerment and the importance of portraying themselves as strong and independent women like Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliot.

She was Workin’ Like Foreal…

In a study by Elaine Richardson of Ohio State University, she discusses the era of black popular culture and mass media, interlinked with hip hop music creating a generation of degradation of women and inequality. The message portrayed by the black popular entertainment media disrupt everyday practices as well as creating a certain low-class standard associated with African American men and women within the culture. 

Gender, sexuality, and racism take precedence in terms of the media because of America’s heavy reliance upon women being seen as simply “video vixens” being controlled by men and creating social inequality. Mass media repackages the concept of slavery regarding black women, making women out to be hyper-sexualized slaves towards men, relating back to African American history. 

In the research done by Richardson, she collected  African American female participants, ranging in age from 17-19, with middle-income and average urban area backgrounds to help explain and give their opinion based upon today’s hip hop and commercial media. Richardson provided rap videos for the women to view, while being taped, asking their opinions and thoughts pertaining to their thoughts regarding their own values and social practices. In her study, she paid close attention to how the young women viewed the video, as well as their interpretations of the song lyrics.

In one video, Richardson discusses the content revolving around the differences amongst the men and women within the media, showing them to be, “…a strip club anthem replete with signs of carnality and status, attractive pulsating young black women wielding their power signs – their beautiful shapely bodies – backsides, breasts, lips, tongues, fly hairstyles, varied brown skin tones, stylish, if very little, clothing, heels, nails, vivid colors; virile men flashing their black men’s power signs – cash money, hard body posturing, gold, jewelry, fine cars, strong drinks, urban apparel.”

In relation to this video, Richardson produces a main thesis regarding, “How do young African American females negotiate stereotypical representations of African American culture, gender, labor, and sexual values in rap music videos?” In her study, she finds that most the women find the videos to be patriarchal and sexist, while they also feel obligated to speak, think, and act in particular ways because of the discourses associated with the practices of social media.





Miss Representation


This is a preview of a very powerful documentary that challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls all across America. This film exposes how mainstream media contributes to the misrepresentation of women and impacts their standing in social and professional settings. Where media is the most persuasive force in shaping cultural norms the collective message overwhelmingly received by young men and women is that a woman’s value and power rest in her youth, beauty, and her sexuality, not in her capabilities or her capacity to be a prominent upstanding professional figure or leader.

link to the website: