Gender Stereotypes In Children Essay

Not fitting into the specific gender roles and characteristics have to be some of the hardest things that some males and females go through. It has been decades since the whole “mothers stay at home” and “fathers work and earn the money” era, but when one expectation ends, others multiply. In today’s culture it is not okay to be a feminine man, and a masculine female, those two things just do not add up in 2016. There are standards men and women must live up to in order to “fit in” and be considered “normal”. It is unfair, to say the least, for the people who will never be able to overcome these qualifications.

In this culture there is an ideal body shape, certain BMI to obtain, looks you must live by, and specific ways to act, all of this in order to be considered a normal female or male. The media does not help with this either. Every day an image of a famous actor, model, singer, etc. is being altered to convince the public that this person is skinny, beautiful, handsome and flawless. From early on in life, as little as fifteen months, children adopt a gender identity and can develop a gender-role preference too (Witt, 1997). Today’s culture has a set of beliefs used to justify these social standards, also known as ideologies.

The population believes that if men and women don’t meet these qualifications they aren’t normal, or real male and females. In order to be in the in-group you must meet the standards for your specific gender, otherwise, you are looked at as different. Society sets unrealistic expectations and in return, men and women feel selfshame for not living up to these standards. In today’s culture gender stereotypes and biases are created on the daily and children learn to adopt their gender roles based on these stereotypes. As children grow up they are exposed to factors that have major influences on their behaviors regarding their gender roles.

During children development, children’s surroundings shape them into who they are. School, television, advertisements, friends, parents and many others impact these children and brainwash them into following these gender stereotypes. A study found that kids at the age of two and a half use gender stereotypes in negotiating the world, therefore in a number of activities they generalize these stereotypes to apply (Witt, 1997). For instance, girls are encouraged to play with dolls and engage in feminine activities, boys are pushed to play with cars, trucks and be involved in sports.

From a very young age these children are experiencing these stereotypes first hand being that they are so vulnerable and are much easier to shape. Television also plays a huge role in children developing gender roles. Disney Channel is only one of many influences on children about male and female roles in society. It has been found that preschools spend nearly 30 hours a week, on average, watching television shows; it is suggested kids actually spend more time sitting in front of the T. V. than they spend doing any other activity with the exception of sleeping.

With all of that time spent watching television it is obvious these kids are going to be influenced in some shape or form. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is determined in malefemale interaction the men are who tend to be more dominant, men emphasize strength while women care about attractiveness and desirability and women are more sensitive, happy, submissive and timid. In another study done by M. L. Halim, there were outstanding results regarding kid’s appearance correlating with gender stereotypes.

The results of the study showed that children pick up clues on what their gender should look like, therefore girls want pink frilly dresses, and boys want red and anything that appears masculine. Children’s appearance is significantly impacted based on gender stereotypes and the authors found if the kids do not fit in they can have sever self-esteem and self-worth problems (Halim, 2014). Even from a young age children are feeling pressured into fitting in with what society tells them. It is absolutely unfair innocent kids are not given the chance to be who they really are, but instead being forced to be someone they aren’t.

With all of these factors influencing children it is inevitable for them to want to follow these gender stereotypes. These standards and characteristics are learned from an early age and continue to be something that girls and boys strive for as they grow older. A gargantuan problem that is sweeping the culture right now having the ideal body. Like previously stated, kids are influenced by the television and this absurd body shape is something that is seen on the daily. From a young age it is taught to be fit, stay in shape and have this perfect figure, and this social fact is shown immensely through today’s society.

In a recent study it is shown that Americans spend at least $60 billion annually on gym memberships, weight-loss programs and even diet soda, just to try and lose weight (McVey, Pepler, Davis, 2002). Both male and female have an ideal image that is much different than the average body, and this idea mediates throughout our culture. For women the ideal image is to have bigger breasts and smaller waist compared to the average female. Men’s ideal image of themselves is to have broad, strong shoulders and chest, which definitely differs from the real image.

Bryan Alexander, the publisher of “Ideal to Real: What the ‘Perfect Body Really Looks Like for Men and women”, for Today, was given various sets of images to reflect “ideal” and “real” body size and shape. Alexander investigates the difference between society’s ideal body shape and the actual average size and shape. The cogitation that women need to be beautiful and thin, and men need to be strong and masculine comes from none other than today’s society. Society sets up these rules that men and women are living by, and when some expectations are not met the only thing left to feel is self-shame and self-hate.

According to TODAY Ideal to Real Body Image Survey, women are spending at least fifty-five minutes each day working on their appearance. Fifty-five minutes a day is amounting to about 335 hours every single year (Dahl, 2016). All of this time spent is wasted just to fulfil an unrealistic standard society has set for today’s women. In this survey done by TODAY 46 percent of 2,000 women say “social media makes me feel more selfconscious about my appearance”, this means that our culture is promoting something that female’s feel they cannot live up to.

Also in this survey it was found that eighty percent of 200 teenagers compare themselves to glamorous celebrity images, which is an outstanding number. Teens today are looking at this photo shopped images and thinking to themselves “this is what I need to look like”, which in itself is saddening enough. The fact that almost half of these teenagers compared their looks to celebrities brings me to my next point, something called “beauty work”. In early Hollywood plastic surgery, diet pills and Botox were the way to go, but with the advanced technology now all of those things aren’t necessary.

The entertainment industry now has this glamorizing miracle, beauty work, which performs digital procedures in a numerous amount of ways. This technique uses software to enhance the face and body, slim features, and de-age photos into the ones seen on the daily. These insane enhancements are costing hundreds, if not thousands, just for one shot, the price range can be anywhere from $500-$2,5000, if not more (Dickey, 2016). Society looks at these photos that seem so realistic, yet they are altered in ways that are unimaginable.

This beauty work software narrows the hips, slims the calves, hides away double chins, tightens pores, vanishes wrinkles, whitens teeth, gets rid of any stomach fat, and the list just never ends. These images of role models and people that are looked up to now seem to be lies. Everything about these photographs are unrealistic and can really never be achieved. All of these altered images get to people and make then truly fell no self-worth. When people you look up to are skinnier, more beautiful, more fit, have bigger breasts, or bigger muscles then that is going to stand out.

The saying “pictures speak a thousand words” is a genuine statement, and unfortunately the words people hear are not good. Looking at images of famous men and women with outstanding looks can make people believe in their head they will never be good enough, they will never be pretty enough, strong enough, beautiful enough and so on. Society is constantly telling women they need a slim waist, large breasts, big butt, and a beautiful face. Men are told to live by four rules of masculinity, no sissy stuff, be a big wheel, be a sturdy oak and take risks.

When men and women fall short of these expectations the ending result is tragic, there is feeling of not being good enough, selfconsciousness, self-hate and even self-shame. Media is full of impractical standards and characteristics that, yet humans are still let down when they see themselves in the mirror and compare themselves to the images displayed on the daily. Men and women should not have to feel like they need to look like these images that are not even real in the first place.