Mass media diversity with race and beauty standard
Mass media diversity; an issue that has been neglected by the people in society and the media itself and still continues to the current time. Accordingly, in this blog, we are going to narrate and discuss the diversity in mass media from the past until how it tends to be in the future.
How stereotype mass media in the past
Universally, in both West and Asia, stereotypes in media are commonly witnessed through many different channels, ranging from television, magazines, and the fast-growing platform: online media. To this way of thinking, the most outstanding stereotypes in both media are associated with racial and beauty standard issues in the West and Asia.
To initiate, the first stereotype is relevant to the Black community, most content creators in Hollywood usually portray their roles as villains, violent, and discriminated against by white people which can lead to the civil rights movement. It has made it obvious that White people are acceptable and normal, also they always are a leader of society or dramas. For instance, Russ (2022) noted that the movie “The Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith in 1915 was considered the most racist film in Hollywood. It portrayed black people as subhuman, menacing rapists, and in Reconstruction using them to obtain political power.
Not to mention, Asia was mostly represented as those who were weak, powerless, and nerdy in Hollywood films. Due to racial issues, it can lead to the setting line for beauty standards West films in specific because mostly portray White people as lead characters. Most of the beauty standards in West films are likely influenced by White people. To clarify, the beauty standard both in male and female characters in media needs to be perfect in various aspects. In light of female characters, it is associated with white-blond hair, perfect body skin, skinny looks, even an hourglass figure. And in male characters need to have an explicitly muscular body and masculinity in Hollywood. To give an example, as it has been seen in many heroes’ movies portraying male actors as unrealistic male standards of physicality.
Also, many of them are suffering at this point such as Sadhwani (2021) said that in the movie “Fight Club” in 1999 Brad Pitt needs to engage in the most terrible process to lose weight just to show the perfect look on screen and remain the aftermath afterward.
As it was mentioned above, the beauty standards are not only in Western films but in Asia is also still a chronic problem these days. Since the old days, people have struggled in line with beauty standards and need to have double-eyelids, pale, skinny, or even small faces not only females but also males. In South Korea, for example, most K-POP idols and actors who fit beauty standards are commonly seen in media, gaining popularity more than others, and have a great opportunity to do other works supported by their company. Plus, in terms of the negative comments from Korean netizens posted against idols who do not fit beauty standards is increasing, ranging from criticism to social judgments. Worse than that, society will emphasize diet culture becomes a norm, and bad comments are likely to be taken for granted ultimately. Like many idols such as Jung Chae Yeon from DIA, she received a ton of criticisms of her legs after that she appeared in the media and lost her weight immediately.
In the series “Dream High” in 2011 the character Kim PillSuk needed to lose her weight to fit the standard of school preparation for being debuted as a singer.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of this beauty standard made people struggle from the mindset of expecting a perfect beauty line in many societies including celebrities and ordinary people from the past. All in all, the racial issues and beauty standards in the West and Asia are continuing to be problematic in the media in this day and age.
How it become more equal in the present day
After we gave you the sense of how stereotypical and inequality media are in the past, we will bring you back to the beginning point when the media evolved and became as they are nowadays. You, who are the audience and a part of the media at this moment, may acknowledge that the media are more equal and fairly being the representative tool for every type of people but, in reality, it is the advancement of technology and education making the citizens be their own voice and raise awareness by themselves.
The arrival of social media platforms had numerous effects on the media industry since people of color, people with special interests, people who are and/or support gender diversity and people with different shapes and sizes can have their communities on these platforms. Moreover, they can spread the word to raise awareness to all the netizens which make those who do not understand or overlook these issues in the society at first, look back and put an effort to understand more. With all the reasons mentioned before,in present days, there are many contents created by the people with diversity for everybody to empathize with. For example, Content on YouTube from channel Koendanai, encouraging gender equality, Instagram post with infographic from instagram account @spectrum.th calling for same sex marriage in Thailand, YouTube content discussing about “Colorism” from Tee Noir. And also Yuthana Boonorm or Pa ted released the interview of Ann Chili Scott Kemmis, Miss Universe Thailand 2021 who had a campaign for support people who do not fit in the beauty standard called #RealSizeBeauty
Now, we need to move on to the mainstream media and media practitioners who work in the real media industry. Certainly, the evolution of the world context did not entirely change the whole industry and the media inequality still remains. Even though many influencers, celebrities and netizens tried to speak up for these communities, The mainstream media still treat and represent them imperfectly. Including racism and beauty standard stereotypes.
Thanom, news reporter of NBT regional TV, looked down on Laos’ people, saying that they are poor and cannot afford the China-Laos train ticket.
Charlie D’Agata, CBS news reporter, had racist comments toward Arab and Afghanistan while reporting Russia and Ukraine news.
The news agency wrote a headline disrespectfully by calling Earn Kanyakorn, a former Thai famous singer, fat as a bullfrog which had an impact on her mental health
From the examples, it shows that mainstream media still lack the understanding about diversity. Nevertheless, the majority of the mainstream media made an effort to change recently not only just because they have more empathy and awareness but also because the demand of audiences is shaping the media industry. As you know, fewer people still watch mainstream media instead of looking for what is compatible with their awareness and education on the internet therefore, the media develop its content to compete with alternative media for its own survival. Consequently, many more new contents from mainstream media gradually put diversity in. For instance, The Thai drama that streamed on mainstream media channel Dark Blue Kiss raised issues including discrimination and coming-out to parents, however, they also add love scenes that appealed to a female fan base to connect with the audience’s demand.
Despite the fact that the media represent diversity since they wanted to battle with the new media content, it is still improving and giving more space for people with diversity. All of these can illustrate how the media industry and media practitioners became as they are in present days from the past.
How it will be in the future
In the future, society will consist of a variety of mass media in race and beauty standards. The mass media world will start to ignore appearance and many other factors such as race or religion but people focus on the ability and quality better than those factors.
As you can see, the current day in South Korea, Most celebrities, actors or idols will consist of people in skinny shape, slim figure, small face, v-shaped jaw, flawless skin or pale skin because this can be considered as “Korean Beauty Standard”. If their beauty does not touch their beauty standard preset, it may be difficult to gain recognition or become famous in South Korean society. However, in the future, a country like South Korea might decide to focus on people’s ability and effort more than their standard in beauty.
Moreover, in the same country like South Korea there is still nationalism so it is hard for foreigners to be successful in the Korean media industry. For example, the member of Blackpink called “Lisa” said that she can gain a great reputation and an overwhelming fan base around the world especially in Thailand but she did not receive much fanbase in South Korea that much because she is Thai which is considered as foreigner.
In addition, foreigners will receive lower income or mistreatment compared with Korean people. Rauf (2021) expressed “YG Entertainment’s stock plummeted after it was reported that BLACKPINK’s Lisa would not attend Paris Fashion Week despite being in France. Lisa’s fans took to social media, calling out YG Entertainment for giving Lisa unfair treatment. The fans have been trending “Justice for Lisa” and #YGLetLisadoHerWork on Twitter.” For this reason, in the future, the South Korean side may be able to accept and provide equal income or equal care to every person in the world, eliminating race and nationalism and showing acceptance of their ability and more patience.
For this reason,the value of beauty and racial factors may be omitted in the future as everyone pays better attention to the true abilities of the individual and appearance such as beauty standard and race cannot overshadow people’s real talent. In the future, we can say clearly that fat does not mean unattractive or acne does not mean dirty, no matter what kind of appearance people have but in the end, they are all the same organism called human.
Therefore, measuring people’s values and giving people opportunities from these kinds of standards in the future will be exhausted and more accepted in other matters.
After all, stereotypes in the media have been continuing from the past until these days in various ways. The article above shows the impact from mass media’s diversity in terms of race or beauty standard. Moreover, those standards in beauty and race that are represented in the media will set a norm for everyone in their country to believe that they should have those standards to be successful or have a proper image in their society. Still, these norms may be inferior to some parts of society because of that we assume that these standards will disappear and gain more interest in the aspect of individual competence.
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