Harpers Bazaar: Objectification of Women by the Media

3 pages
665 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Literature review
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Harpers Bazaar is associated with the famous Russian-born American photographer Alexey Brodovitch. It was first published in 1867. Brodovitch is renowned for his modern imagery and portrait of a womans elegance, sophistication, and energy. The three qualities were depicted in his design in the magazine, underscoring the extent to which the femininity is represented in Harpers Bazaar. The magazines audience is comprised of urban men and women, college girls, fashion, and celebrity enthusiasts. The messages in the magazine are majorly drawn from the areas of a womans beauty and beauty products, marital issues, fashion, and celebrity news. The edition is largely gender biased in language, text, and advertisements. In particular, the language used is catchy to attract a feminine readership. In the magazine, women give testimonials on say how beauty enhancement procedures made them famous amongst their peers or how sleeping with a married man made them feel afterwards. Among the common celebrity issues is how a certain female artiste was dumped by her boyfriend or how she was harassed by male fans on stage.

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Harpers Bazaar exemplifies the debate that has been going on in various social circles. Crawford (1995) postulates that a modern woman uses a language that relates her with her group. In other words, gender insensitive language is still at large, and it is perpetuated by both men and women. Nonetheless, the latest waves of feminist movements have sought to assert womens domination of language used in a social context despite the apparent resistance posed by men. Crawford (1995) suggests that modern gender-sensitive language generally deviates away from the traditional queer language used by male sexists to objectify women and make implicit sexual advances (Percy, 2000). Objectification of women by the media is a discourse that psychologists and social scientists have held for a long time. The main negative impact of this depiction of women is the effect it has on teenage girls. Girls are likely to ape their peers represented in the media and streamline their eating habits, fashion, dressing and relationships with what is portrayed in popular culture. This social problem has attracted a lot of scholarly attention, leaving none to teenage boys and their emotional development. This scenario prompted Giordano, Longmore and Manning (2006) to undertake a study on the romantic relationships of adolescent boys. In this study the researchers concluded that in contrary to the commonly held opinion, boys are significantly less confident in exploring different aspects of their romantic relationship, the same as girls studied. This study explored a topic that is consistent with Freuds psychosexual theory. Post-puberty boys and girls, according to this theory, are pushed by the desire to procreate and advance the human race (Kline, 2013). There are, however, some intricacies involved in this mental inclination towards sex. Gordano, Longmore, and Manning (2006) thus sought to elucidate these intricacies in a social context.

Traditionally, school cheerleading teams have common characteristics: girls in short uniform skirt holding poms and dancing to a tune created by the team or emanating from the dais. According to Adams and Bettis (2003), this performance serves to extend the objectification of girls as the source of mans pleasure. They argue that cheerleading is done for the purpose of entertaining men playing or spectating in a game. In their study on cheerleading and its effect of female objectification, they conclude that the performance offers girls a space to take risk, try different personas, and to delight in the physicality of their body.


Adams, N., & Bettis, P. (2003). Commanding the room in short skirts cheering as the embodiment of ideal girlhood. Gender & Society, 17(1), 73-91.

Crawford, M. (1995). Talking difference: On gender and language (Vol. 7). Sage.Giordano, P. C., Longmore, M. A., & Manning, W. D. (2006). Gender and the meanings of adolescent romantic relationships: A focus on boys. American Sociological Review, 71(2), 260-287.

Kline, P. (2013). Fact and Fantasy in Freudian Theory (RLE: Freud). Routledge.Percy, W. (2000). The message in the bottle: How queer man is, how queer language is, and what one has to do with the other. Macmillan.

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