Health Classes Address Gender Roles

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A big issue in society today is the way media affects our idea of gender roles. There has been a big focus on this topic in CRHS junior health classes this year. Classes discussed gender stereotypes and stereotypes in general. Students had to choose from random pictures of people and write down what they thought the person’s name, job, etc. would be just from looking at them. The purpose of this exercise was to show how we categorize people without even knowing anything about them. Recently, students had an assignment to write an essay on whether the media affects our idea of gender roles, supporting their arguments with specific examples. The examples I used were the advertisements seen below.


A 1953 Del Monte ketchup advertisement shows a picture of a woman holding a ketchup bottle with a surprised look on her face. The ad reads “You mean a woman can open it…?” This advertisement refers to the idea that women are weak and can’t open or lift things themselves, and implies that the cap is so easy to open, even a woman can do it.


A Warner’s bra and girdle advertisement from 1967 teaches us that women should look a certain way, and to change themselves if they don’t. Stating that this product is for “girls with too much bottom and too little top,” the ad shows a picture of a pear and says, “This is no shape for a girl.” This leads people to believe that all women should be slim at the waist and have a bigger bust, and that anything else is unacceptable and unattractive.

These clearly show that for many years, women have been seen as weak and only attractive if they are “skinny.” It is expected that men be “manly,” and not have jobs that women typically do (nursing, cooking, cleaning, etc.).

Personally, I think that the media definitely affects our ideas of gender roles in society and promotes stereotypes of both men and women. Unfortunately, it is something that will always happen because it is human nature. It is healthy for people to judge one another and important to acknowledge that everyone does it; however, it definitely gets to a point where a line is crossed, and it is taken too far, as shown in these advertisements.