How far has the Success of Woman in Media Come?
With the recent success of Barbie, and it reaching what has been dubbed ‘Barbillion’ in a historic number of days, the question as to how far representation of women and the success of female centric stories has come is even more relevant than before.
Women have been portrayed in a number of different ways across media, whether as a stereotypical figure objectified by her male counterpart or now as a complicated Barbie doll who realises the beauty of human life. Women are superheroes (like Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel) or business figures (like Shiv Roy from Succession). For me, Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) was one of the characters I remember seeing on screen which inspired me to take the path to become a lawyer (and I think there are a few female lawyers who can say the same!).
The point is that women can be anything, and the Barbie movie, with its diverse cast and each Barbie doll representing a different type of woman, is proof of that.
But has this really solved the continuing issue of female representation in the media? Has this solved the double standard of how female characters are treated in comparison to male characters? The unfortunate answer is no. For every female success story, comes its critics. Barbie couldn’t escape this, with prominent male figures targeting the film for its feminist tones. The film itself comments on the patriarchy and the different experiences of Barbie and Ken in the ‘real world’.
However, the success of the film has shown that these figures are a small minority. People, especially women, want to see themselves represented on screen. They want to be heard and treated as human beings.
One of the key ways to ensure women’s stories continue to be told so well and to ensure that different types of women are represented, is to ensure women are also contributing behind the scenes as well as at the forefront. For example, Margot Robbie produced and starred in the titular role of Barbie and pushed for female talent behind the screen. She also requested that she not be the only Barbie on screen, as she did not want to be seen as the ideal. Her faith in this female centric project (alongside the incredible marketing!) allowed the film to make a billion dollars at the global box office.
It is important to note that this type of representation shouldn’t only occur for media projects. Companies that utilise their female employees will only benefit from their unique perspective that they bring to their work.
To conclude, representation of women and their success in the media has come a long way since the times when women were only seen and not heard on the screen. While critics can be loud, they can be overpowered by the sheer desire for true representation by women.