The Mother Of All Roles

My mom is my role model; the person whose behavior and example I want to follow.

Not because we would spend quality time baking cupcakes together, not because she was the one who taught me how to wear makeup, and certainly not because of her everlasting patience with my sister and I. My mom is actually very short tempered, doesn’t wear any makeup, and neither of us could bake a single chocolate chip cookie if our lives depended on it. I see my mom as my role model because she had the courage to sacrifice her work to stay at home and take care of my sister and I, because no matter what the problem she would always figure out a solution, and because she was the one who pushed me to take the risk and come to the U.S to study when I was only seventeen. She continues to be a major influence on the person I am today, and for that, I’ll be ever grateful.

role model

Well known communications scholar Dr. Julia T. Wood states in Chapter 7 of her book, Gendered Lives, that there are five current themes of femininity and womanhood which contribute to what it is like to “grow up feminine” in America. But for the purpose of this blog, I will only go into three of them. These predominant themes revolve mainly around the ideas that “appearance still counts”, that women have to “be sensitive and caring”, and that they should aim to “be superwoman”. Ironically, my mom didn’t reinforce those ideas in me as much as my dad did. She actually told me to act more with the characteristics that are more associated with boys while growing up like “be successful” and “be self-reliant”.

This article found in CNN relates to this post because it talks about teaching girls from an early age to feel empowered. Making a reference to the very popular Superbowl commercial #LikeAGirl, the article states the importance of making girls feel confident too, from a very early age.

I think that since I started playing tennis, the themes of “be successful” and “be self-reliant” started to overshadow the more feminine ones. Since I had to travel with a bunch of boys to the tournaments, I stopped caring so much about my appearance and focus more on my performance and bringing results back home because I wanted to make my parents feel proud. Also, being self-reliant was something that from a very early age got stuck with me. The constant reinforcement of these two characteristics made me become someone who is very independent and who is able to actually rely on her own.

Sexualization, Sexualization Everywhere

A few weeks ago, I came across this BuzzFeed video and I thought it would be a good idea to share it for this Blog Post. When I watched it for the first time, I could not stop laughing at how the guys looked trying to act as the women who appeared on the original commercials. But when at the end of the video I read “Seeing men like this is RIDICULOUS… So why isn’t it with WOMEN?”, I could not come up with an answer right away. After a while, I thought about the fact of seeing women portrayed like this in order to generate more consumer attraction to a product has become so normal that it is even hard for me to recognize at times.

"Sexualization, Sexualization Everywhere"

“Sexualization, Sexualization Everywhere”

In the Report of the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, the American Psychology Association points out four components of sexualization and states that even if all of them are not present, one is enough to indicate that it is occurring. Sexualization takes place if (1) the value of a person is ONLY coming from their sexual appeal, (2) a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness with being “sexy”, (3) a person is sexually objectified, and (4) sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

Society has used this sexualization in order to tell women what they should look like, what they should act like, and even how they should think. If you are a girl, haven’t you wanted to go running to the mall and do some shopping after seeing the Victoria’s Secret new summer swimsuit catalog? Weren’t you more self-conscious about your body and image after you visited this store?

Chapter 11 of our textbook “Gendered Lives” by Julia T. Wood, explores the definition of agenda setting, the primary impact of the media. Wood explains that according to many scholars, this is a process by which the media tells us what we should “attend to”. Agenda setting is probably the responsible factor for making sexualization such a “success”. How many times have you heard the famous phrase “SEX SELLS”? Because unfortunately, it kind of does. One example can be seen in the increase of sells that famous pop singer Ariana Grande generated in her album “My Everything” vs. her previous one “Yours Truly”. As you can see, “Yours Truly” displays Ariana Grande looking over her shoulder and smiling, with a blurry background of what seem to be lots of roses; the focus is more on Ariana’s face. Now, if you look at the cover of the other album, you can see a different pose of Ariana, in tiny clothes and having her face towards the ground. She is also in a position that makes her look fragile, as she holds her face with one hand and her shoe with the other one. It is clear that “My Everything” is focusing more on Ariana’s body. According to Billboard, “Yours Truly” sold 138,000 copies while “My Everything” had an outstanding total of 169,000 copies sold.


Sexualization has even hidden behind the covers of music albums by famous singers like Ariana Grande.

Sexualization has even hidden behind the covers of music albums by famous singers like Ariana Grande.

Images like these end up not only influencing teenagers, adult women and little girls about the way they should look, but they also reach boys and men, telling them what they should expect from girls. This creates a problem because not only most of these looks are unrealistic for women but they also push them to an extreme in making efforts to achieve “perfection” in all senses. If you have ever seen the TV show “Toddlers and Tiaras, you can witness how little girls – who sometimes don’t even have all of their teeth fully grown – transform into “grown women” in a matter of hours by applying lots of make-up and wearing “sexy” costumes to model on the pageant. By being a part of this kind of events, not only are these girls encouraged to grow up faster, but they also develop other types of behavior (like being to superficial or spoiled). According to an article in the Huffington Post, a 5-year-old and star of the show, was seen at a nightclub in New York singing “I’m Sexy and I Know It”, creating some controversy about this.

I think that the media will always influence the way we think about ourselves and other people, but it is also up to us to decide if that influence is stronger than who we really are. As we have seen in this class, there are people out there that defy the socially constructed norms of gender. This should remind us that everyone is different, and that the fact that somebody is famous for looking a certain way doesn’t mean we ought to look like that as well.

Beauty at first sight?

Today, more than ever, we live in a society where our looks have become our idols, and what one looks like physically can be so overrated that most of the the time it operates as the only reference about the person each of us is. We live in a world of images, where everything appears as real through TV screens, computers or cell phone screens. It is a world full of stereotypes and models that are presented as ideal to be achieved.

In chapter 8 of our textbook, Gendered Lives, Dr. Julia Wood explained that while

“striving to meet physical ideals is often associated with women, men are not immune.”

This statement should not surprise us. How can we not be influenced about the “importance” of physical appearance when every make-up commercial, every movie or every new music video shows people that many times look nothing like us in unrealistic situations?

Iggy Azalea and Britney Spears

Iggy Azalea and Britney Spears

Take for example the following portion of lyrics from the song “Pretty Girls”, by Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea:

“All around the world, pretty girls
Wipe the floor with all the boys
Pour the drinks, bring the noise
(It’s Iggy-Iggs!)
We’re just so pretty!
All around the world, pretty girls
Jump the line, to the front
Do what we like, get what we want”

This is what you hear most of the time in the song, over and over again. Not only it tries to say that “pretty girls” always do what they like and get what they want, but it also implies that men are powerless around them. The music video makes a powerful statement about physical appearance as well, when in the very beginning Britney helps out Iggy Azalea by picking out outfits for her to wear, making it look like those kinds of clothes – the ones that only cover less than half you body and you often see in thin girls – are what Iggy needs to wearing order to “fit in right.”

According to the National Eating Disorders (NEDA) website, “mass media provides a significantly influential context for people to learn about body ideals and the value placed on being attractive”.

The Office of Women’s Health website stated that “many women in the United States feel pressured to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image.” That is why most of us have become so obsessed with “fixing” every little part about ourselves, and we see our bodies as these “all- consuming projects.”

A healthy self-image today is more dependent on the good seem to be really healthy. The frequency of anorexia, among other things, is a symptom of this, and too often our diet and exercise have less to do with health than the appearance or image. According to a paper from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes, “a number of studies have examined the correlation between the use of mass media and body satisfaction, eating disorder symptomatology, and negative affect.”


Don't let the mirror decide

Don’t let the mirror decide. Your physical appearance doesn’t define the real beautiful in you.

We should stop believing that everything we see on the media is what we should look like or what we should act like. Every single one of us has unique characteristics that make us beautiful.

You can find consistent bodies with what is said “attractive”, someone will exceed the standards and there always will be those who are below them. Instead of putting so much value to bodies, we should focus on the minds, hearts and souls. Close your physical eyes to value the beauty that does not deteriorate.

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A little bit about my journey so far

Hi everyone! My name is Maria Fernanda Coronel and I am from the beautiful city of Arequipa, in Peru. Although I will be a senior this coming Fall, I just finished my first year at Longwood because I transferred from a junior college in Texas. I am a member of the Women’s Tennis team and my major is Communication Studies with a concentration in Organizational Communication and Public Relations.

From my house in Arequipa, I have a great view of the Misti volcano! The Misti is one of the three inactive volcanoes we have in my city.

From my house in Arequipa, I have a great view of the Misti volcano! The Misti is one of the three inactive volcanoes we have in my city.


A picture I took the last time I was home

A picture I took this last Winter break.

The Main Plaza at downtown Arequipa

The Main Plaza at downtown Arequipa




When I think about the expertise I have in the field of communication studies I not only think about the professional experience I have had, but I also consider that the journey I have taken so far counts. During my time in the States, I have lived in Louisiana, Texas and Virginia. I think that having lived in different states and having attended different schools has served as an experience to improve my communication skills with people of different backgrounds and adapt more easily wherever I go next. In addition, every time I go back home, I have the chance to work with some tourism agencies by advertising what they have to offer to tourists, by giving tours of the city or by helping in the planning of a trip.

One of the experiences with gendered norms that perhaps impacted me the most was growing up playing tennis mostly – and sometimes only – with boys at my tennis academy. Even though we were just kids, the environment at our academy was a very competitive one and there was a lot of rivalry with some of the other kids. Some boys teased me because I was just a girl who tried to keep up with them and sometimes couldn’t. I remember coming to my mom for advice on what to do about this and she told me that I should just not pay attention to them. However, all I wanted to do was tease them as well, so that they would know how it felt. But when I did, I got yelled at because “little girls should not behave like that.” It was so unfair!


When I was younger and traveled to other countries in South America to play tennis tournaments, I also had the chance to learn a little bit about the different ways that gender norms are viewed in other places, and compare it to how it is in Peru. Coming to the States has allowed me once again to see the similarities and differences of gender norms in a new context.

I hope that by the end of this course I can use everything I’ve learned in order to have a better understanding of gendered relationships and keep transforming the society we live in. I got really inspired by what Julia T. Wood wrote on her introduction of Gendered Lives, the book we will be using for this course:

“Through your interpersonal, social, and public communication, you can be someone who transforms yourself and the society in which we jointly participate. Information is the foundation of effectiveness as an agent of change.”

education quote






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