When Unrealistic Becomes Ideal

Hypersexualization of Females in Media

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When Unrealistic Becomes Ideal

A female character in the video game,

A female character in the video game, "Overwatch." By emphasizing female characters’ sexuality, video game designers wrongly attribute their skills to their appearance.

AC De Leon

A female character in the video game, "Overwatch." By emphasizing female characters’ sexuality, video game designers wrongly attribute their skills to their appearance.

AC De Leon

AC De Leon

A female character in the video game, "Overwatch." By emphasizing female characters’ sexuality, video game designers wrongly attribute their skills to their appearance.

Angie Leung, Copy Editor

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Eons ago like 1997 when Jack was instructed to “draw me like one of your French girls,” his portrayal of female body proportions was right on…even if a bit too accurate in its sexual nature. So, then, why do media producers who design our mainstream content, when asked to animate half of the world population, seem to not grasp the concept of realistic proportions? 

Hypersexualization of female characters can be readily observed in much of the everyday media we consume, from music videos to video games, and it becomes a larger societal problem when these social scripts dictate how women should think, feel and behave.

For example, almost every female character in the popular online battle arena video game “League of Legends” published by Riot Games is portrayed with exposed cleavage, a disproportionately thin waist, thigh gap and voluptuous figure. 

From Music Videos to Video Games and Beyond

Even characters in the music video, “POP/STARS” by K/DA, a virtual K-pop group who represent champions in the “League of Legends” game, are depicted with the ideal femme fatale or pure, innocent image. Although the characters were motion captured after the singers’ movements, this is where the accurate modeling ends. 

At the 2018 League World Championships, the animated champions were superimposed onto the stage next to the female singers, but it is clear that editing made the characters seem more attractive: The champions are taller, paler, have poreless, smooth skin and their buttocks are accentuated in order to appeal to the average male gamer. 

Another League champion, Caitlyn, is portrayed as a sexy policewoman. She has an extremely thin waist and large breasts and wears a midriff-cut police uniform that scarcely covers her sexual body parts — not to mention a skirt that would embarrass even Marilyn Monroe. 

One champion, portrayed as a feline woman, dresses in masquerade-themed lingerie and throws a tempting smile toward her suitor. The association of female characters with love spurs the misbelief that women desire to be romantically swept off their feet by men. 

Even the anime series, “Yu-Gi-Oh! GX,” my favorite anime when I grew up, is guilty of hypersexualization. Alexis Rhodes, my favorite character, abides by ideal values, such as loyalty, friendship, independence and intelligence, as she has an Obelisk rank, the highest rank possible in her school. She is also unperturbed by love confessions from other students. 

Yet her physical image is disappointing.

She has a thin figure and disproportionately large breasts, and her tight-fitting Dual Academy uniform barely covers her genitalia. In painting an unrealistic figure, the animators mistakenly associate Rhodes’ attractive character with her appearance. 

The Implications of Hypersexualization of Girls in Media

These hypersexualized portrayals of women exacerbate and normalize the paths that women take to attain these warped standards.  

Never mind the suffocating waist-cinching corsets that make our waists appear smaller than our necks. Never mind the breast implant surgeries we undergo to exaggerate our cleavage. Never mind the laser skin resurfacing treatments or hundreds of chemicals we inject into our faces to make our skin “flawless.” This image is “beautiful.” 

By modeling female characters after their capabilities, like movement, skill and power, but disproportionately enhancing their sexuality, we wrongly feed the misconception that attractiveness is based on sexual appeal or experience rather than character. The lack of representation of a variety of “average” women — those of us without bulging breasts or are so slim that we seem to lack ribs — reflects the larger problem of hypersexuality that distorts societal perception of women. 

By modeling female characters after their capabilities, like movement, skill and power, but disproportionately enhancing their sexuality, we wrongly feed the misconception that attractiveness is based on sexual appeal or experience rather than character.”

This attitude does not stem from strictly women, but rather is shared by both sexes in media consumption. In addition to advising girls to “value themselves for who they are rather than how they look,” as the American Psychological Association suggests, the effects of hypersexualization in mainstream media should first be examined.