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How-To Interpret Media Messages

Today’s world of media is much more difficult to live in than in the past. Not only are there more media outlets telling us what is beautiful but also it is now more acceptable to show skin and flaunt your sexuality. Sex sells and it’s selling all over the world. Women are rightfully concerned as to how the role of mass media influences their lives. The challenge for women today is to learn how to interpret and distinguish the images put out there in the media. There is a set of skills women should use when interpreting messages in the media:

  • Observing women’s images in the media
  • Seeking out alternative depictions
  • Supporting women to make their own media messages
  • Sharing this knowledge with friends, family and community

Media literacy is very important to have in these times of over-powering media outlets. Media literacy is the ability to understand how mass media work, how they produce meanings, how they are organized, and how to use them wisely. The media literate person can describe the role media play in his or her life and understands the basic practices of various media, and enjoys their use in a deliberately conscious way. The media literate person understands the impact of music and special effects in heightening the drama of a television program or film…this recognition does not lessen the enjoyment of the action, but prevents the viewer from being unfairly accepting or becoming unnecessarily frightened. The media literate person is in control of his or her media experiences. It’s up to you to become a media literate person and not let the media affect you, and especially affect you when it comes to the body images you see in the media. Media literacy skills can help children, young adults and adults:

  • Understand how media messages create meaning
  • Identify who created a particular media message
  • Recognize what the media maker wants us to believe or do
  • Name the “tools of persuasion” used
  • Recognize bias, spin, misinformation and lies
  • Discover the part of the story that’s not being told
  • Evaluate media messages based on our own experiences, beliefs and values
  • Create and distribute our own media messages
  • Become advocates for change in our media system

By becoming media literate you can free yourself from being “controlled” by media. Don’t let the media tell you what you should like, do, or what you should look like. This is especially important for women. Women seem to be told what to do more than anyone in the media, so as a woman you should want to analyze these messages and want to understand how to interpret it and make it your own decision to let it affect your or not. What is seen today in the media is not always uniform or fair. More women should expand their media experiences and media literacy to fully gain a better understanding and perspective of different images and how it relates to our self-image. It is important to be confident in yourself and your own image and spread the word to other women. Don’t rely on a single source of information. The media has a very specific goal and that is to sell products through fantasy and unrealistic ideals. They tell us how we should look or be; but don’t let them. Be who you are and own it.

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