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The Effect of Cinderella’s Lost Slipper

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A man rises every day, puts on his suit and walks downstairs to see his beautiful wife dressed in a   dress tapered around the waist and heels with pearls around her neck. This wife would have breakfast ready for him and the children and see them off to work or school. The man goes to work and returns eight hours later to a cocktail and a warm dinner. He then reads or watches TV and finally goes to sleep, restarting this process again the next day. The roles of each gender have been set, changing throughout the decades, but how did they get this way? Since the 1950s and the rise of the media girls and boys have had their gender roles assigned to them. While different, the gender roles of women in both post-WWII America and Present-day are pushed towards women to an incredible extent. A woman is urged to follow these norms and non-conformity results in shame. The topic of gendered messages in the media is very important and prevalent in our everyday lives.

WHAT ARE GENDERED MESSAGES?

Gendered messages are messages perpetrated through media that portray women to fill a certain ideal. The plethora of signals being received by girls in the 1950s still exist in the 21st century. Modern day women receive the same, outdated messages from the 1950s (Zhang).  Gender stereotypes that are perpetuated through the media are more than boys liking blue and girls liking pink. Stereotypes are the socially constructed practices ideas and traditions that can change over time and affect one group (Puri). In the case of woman, stereotypes become laws that inhibit their ability to rise to a higher status (Puri).


(“Six Confessions Of A Not So Stereotypical Country Girl”)

WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS?

I am personally interested in this topic because of the way it affects me. Like many people of my generation, I am constantly surrounded by media of all different kinds. I find it interesting to look at how people’s places in society are dictated by what they see. This topic is also interesting to me because I love exploring women’s issues. I wrote about the gender pay gap for a research paper last year. I learned that for the most part, the gender pay gap is not an intentional pay disparity, but due to the jobs, women hold. Now as a tenth grader I would love to focus on some of the reasons why women hold the lower paying jobs. Click here to hear more.

WHAT IS THE HISTORICAL PROBLEM?

(Moojan)

Gendered Messages have been a problem throughout history. It is common knowledge that men and women have always had roles specific for their gender. Over time, gendered messages have not evolved dramatically. In the 1950s and 1960s the United States placed a large focus and importance on the nuclear family. An ideal American family would involve a father who worked a nine to five job, and a mother whose job was to stay home and maintain a positive home life. The media played a major role in reinforcing this image through extraordinary popular Disney movies. Prominent movies released in the 50s included: Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and Sleeping Beauty (1959). All of these movies portrayed marriage as the ultimate goal for young girls (O’Keefe). It is important to note that the female main characters are an unrealistic expectation of beauty. The characters have stunning features by caucasian beauty standards. These unrealistic beauty expectations teach girls from a young age to be hyper aware of their public image (O’Keefe). The rising popularity of makeup in the 1950s is chiefly due to the over beautification of children’s movie characters (O’Keefe). After being exposed to these standards of beauty, people are more likely to purchase cosmetics in an attempt to look like the characters. The characters are so kind that they are naive. They often get in trouble and need to be saved, always by a man.  When the man saves these women it plays on the idea of a “Damsel in Distress” (O’Keefe). The “Damsel in Distress” is an idea that portrays the thought that women are helpless creatures that need to be saved. In addition, children’s movies have an evil villain. With exceptions few and far between, villains are unmarried women. The idea that a woman without a husband is something to be feared gets pushed towards children. This further intensifies the theme of marriage being the ultimate goal.

(“Britney Spears to Star as Cinderella in London Pantomime This Christmas?!”)

It is important to note that the female main characters are an unrealistic expectation of beauty. The characters have stunning features by caucasian beauty standards. These unrealistic beauty expectations teach girls from a young age to be hyper aware of their public image (O’Keefe). The rising popularity of makeup in the 1950s is chiefly due to the over beautification of children’s movie characters (O’Keefe). After being exposed to these standards of beauty, people are more likely to purchase cosmetics in an attempt to look like the characters. The characters are so kind that they are naive. They often get in trouble and need to be saved, always by a man.  When the man saves these women it plays on the idea of a “Damsel in Distress” (O’Keefe). The “Damsel in Distress” is an idea that portrays the thought that women are helpless creatures that need to be saved. In addition, children’s movies have an evil villain. With exceptions few and far between, villains are unmarried women. The idea that a woman without a husband is something to be feared gets pushed towards children. This further intensifies the theme of marriage being the ultimate goal. Read more here!

(Calendarstory)

IS THIS STILL A PRESENT DAY PROBLEM?

In the present day, the problem of gendered messages is still a problem that maturing kids face every day. The plethora of signals being received by girls in the 1950s still exist in the 21st century. Modern day women receive the same, outdated messages from the 1950s (Zhang).  Toys, grooming products, and even hobbies are presented more to each gender (Zhang). The Disney Princesses of the 1950s are still present and prominent in the lives of young girls today (Petersen). Even in coloring books published in the 21st century, girls are docile home workers. The fictional characters are depicted cleaning and cooking and their goal is to get married and find a man (Petersen). Another example of gendered messages that children receive from a very young age are nursery rhymes (Laraine). In nursery rhymes girls act passive and boys are active. These messages that children receive shape how they grow up as adults. Lorraine Wolowitz conducted a study that involved people reading books and guessing what gender the characters were. The result was people often associated male characters with being strong and active and female characters within docile (Laraine).  This shows that the ideals in media are accepted by the people as well. In conclusion, girls receive notions to be things they are not and struggle to combat those pressures. See here to learn more!

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

Gloria Steinem (Steinem)

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

While an average person cannot single single-handedly rid the world of unfair gender ideas perpetrated through the media,  it is important to recognize that every small action one can take is a step in the right direction. To begin with, do not support by watching movies that don’t portray women fairly or objectify women. While this may be a difficult task, Hollywood creates movies for money, and if movies that objectify women stop making money, they won’t be produced at such a large scale. Secondly, donate to groups that help girls enter STEM and male dominated fields. The National Girls Collaborative Group ensures that girls have access to STEM tools to learn. Their website provides details on how to help the cause. Finally, it is important to call out gendered messages in the media when you see them! The problem ends when people start talking about it. If everyone could speak out when they see injustice, the world would be a better place.

What can a parent do to aid their kid in avoiding and understanding gendered messages? Parents should show their children gender-positive media while having healthy conversations with children about how they should interact with other genders (Petersen). It is important to note that children are not born with gender stereotypes, they are enforced and taught by the adults that surround them (Knorr). Be open to teens and young adults exploring gender and teach boys positive ways to express emotion to help banish toxic masculinity. Learn a bit more about solutions here.

Instagram Influencers with Gender Positive Messages?

@women.doing.science on Instagram
@growproud on insagram
@adwoaaboah on Instagram
View this post on Instagram

I take it back! 🔨🛡

A post shared by @ womenincomics on

@womenincomics on Instagram
SEE WORKS CITED HERE!

Please check out my google form to leave feedback and comments. Don’t forget to mention who your favorite gender positive influencer is!

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COMMENTS: 9
  1. April 25, 2019 by Siena.Martin

    Ellie, first off you are adorable. Second, this project is incredibly well done. You provide the exact right amount of information to be in depth but also leave enough room for further thought and research. I think I would have liked a couple more feasible solutions that an average every person could do but I also realize how difficult it is to come up with those because this topic encompasses some many different parts. Overall, amazing job!

  2. April 25, 2019 by Tess Blake

    I LOVE your title!

  3. April 26, 2019 by Ingrid

    First off, the title is very eye-catching, making the readers (me) want to read it! The format of the page is very clean and simple, giving the readers all the information in a clean manner. The Instagram posts at the bottom of the page are very helpful as it shows the relevance of this topic and how important it is!

  4. April 26, 2019 by Mila.Tewell

    Ellie you have researched thoughtfully and provide us a clear and compelling story here – thank you! I hope that you will continue this gender research and in particular take your studies globally to explore the experiences of women all over the world, which are both similar and startling different.

  5. April 26, 2019 by rebecca urato

    Ellie, this project is extremely well done and incredibly unique! I love the title of your project, and you clearly put a lot of effort into your research and presentation. Including instagram users with positive messages was great; it really speaks to the teenage audience here. If you decide to continue pursuing this research, how will you do so? I’d be really interested to see how this project develops. Really amazing work!

  6. April 27, 2019 by Payton

    Your title is awesome – so creative!! I also really enjoyed how you started off with the history of these gender roles and then went into the present day implications and ways that these roles are still seen today. How would you suggest one speaks out about these injustices surrounding gender stereotypes in a constructive way?

  7. April 27, 2019 by Isabella B

    Hey! I think the message that you’re putting out here is really important and I really liked your extra catchy title. It gives a hint into what you’re talking about but makes me want to know more that’s actually why I opened your presentation I also like how you in embedded the Instagram posts into your page. I noticed in your call to action you said to not watch movies that objectify women or show them beinf treated unfairly have any recommendations of good ones that don’t do this?

  8. April 27, 2019 by Luis Mendoza Perez

    I love this presentation! The point you brought up about how more young girls are pushed to be like boys but the opposite is almost never the case is something I haven’t really thought about. It really shows just how rooted these gender norms are in misogyny.

  9. April 27, 2019 by Rachel.Dulski

    Ellie, your presentation is awesome! It is very informative and interesting. The topic for my presentation was about how social media influences body image and I found a lot of connections between our presentations. As a part of my presentation, I analyzed the impact Disney movies have on body image and I concluded that they portray unrealistic body types, which can lead to people having unrealistic body standards and developing eating disorders. Do you think that Disney movies also portray the importance of beauty which might pressure women to care more about how their body looks?

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