In Argentina’s digital media, a large percentage of the audience focuses on articles about celebrities. Strategies must be developed to avoid reinforcement and reproduction of stereotypes.
At a time when the gender perspective has become essential in newsrooms worldwide, Argentina’s digital media face a challenge: A large percentage of the audience gets their news from articles that mistreat women or their images. This information is based on what hundreds of celebrities or “influencers” note in their social networks.
Objectification is the action of reducing a person or their image to a “thing.” The media that publishes articles that reinforce this assume a responsibility when replicating the image of a woman in a news item. The words chosen for the headline and photo caption can add to this objectification with respect to what is socially accepted as “beautiful.”
At VíaPaís, we understand the urgency of finding solutions to this dilemma, which is present throughout Latin America. For this reason, we started a process that changes journalists’ way of presenting this type of article. We want to avoid installing a certain idea about what each one thinks about the appearance of bodies in the photos.
One of the first decisions we made was to change the style of the titles. We don’t want to announce that a celebrity “displayed all her beauty” or “showed off her sculpted body.” Readers will probably interpret that they will see a “perfect” body and face or the person in the photo fits perfectly within the canons of beauty. We have recently seen that, using the same image, it is possible to use a headline without adjectives by adding only a descriptive note about the novelty of the photo.
In addition to objectifying, stereotyping is also common. Most of the images published with these articles have editing, filters, or almost imperceptible retouching. This confuses the reader even more if accompanied by a description that highlights all the physical “charms” of the protagonist.
In this sense, Latin American psychologists are currently studying the possibility that there is a toxic relationship between Instagram users and influencers on this social network. A large portion of them consume the content that generates the most anguish for them. They do so constantly, and this consumption exceeds the social network itself. This is reflected in the comments of the content. Fifty-five percent of readers of this type of comment for VíaPaís are women.
While fighting for gender equality and women’s rights — and while encouraging self-acceptance, size inclusion, body-positive movements, and body diversity — the media must be a partner. It must stop being automatic multipliers of stereotypes. It cannot continue to objectify images of women.