Are Disney Princesses Damaging Children? (JOUR 4250)

Adults know that Disney princesses’ bodies and stories are pure fantasy. But do young children understand the concept of fantasy? Not completely. Lately the Disney princesses have been receiving a lot of criticism surrounding this issue.

The princesses have perfect bodies, hair and makeup. They are helpless and weak until a prince saves them. Their life goal is to marry that prince and live happily ever after in a palace. Are these characters sending children, especially girls, the wrong message?

Take a look at some recent criticisms:

The Princesses’ Bodies Are Not Realistic


Photo Credit

Disney Princesses Are Historically Inaccurate

jazmine realJasmine: Fourth Century A.D., Arabian Peninsula
pocahontas realPocahontas: Early 1600s, Virginia
snow white realSnow white: 1500s, Germany

Photo Credit

Disney Princesses’ Hair Is Too Perfect

ariel hair Ariel with wet hair
cinderella hairCinderella with bed head
 mulan hair Mulan with static
pocahontas hair Pocahontas in the wind

Photo Credit

All of these points about the physical characteristics of the princesses are spot on, but there is still a deeper problem that we aren’t talking about.

I grew up watching the Disney princess movies and think I turned out OK. But I can’t deny that there was a time when I believed life would always be picture perfect and someone would always save me if I needed help. We need to stop teaching young girls they can completely depend on a man to be successful and happy. There may be debate about whether or not girls will decide for themselves as they get older, become educated and have a deeper understanding of the world. Everyone’s views are different and there is no absolute truth, but I am all for sending a better message to children. They need to know life does not always go your way, no one is perfect, a man won’t fix all of your problems and it is good to be independent.

Is this the message we want to send? Credit

Is this the message we want to send? Credit

The flip side:


A TV Series that Actually Matters: American Crime (JOUR 4250)

If you have not already been watching ABC’s newest series, American CrimeI highly recommend that you start. Yes, Keeping Up With the Kardashians is entertaining, but it has no application to the majority of Americans’ lives. On the other hand, American Crime is REAL. During a time with so much public focus on police brutality and abuse of power, the show is completely relevant.

Thank you John Ridley (the screenwriter for Twelve Years a Slave) for developing this series. 

The show explores countless other social issues that are prominent in today’s American society. Besides displaying real issues that Americans face on a daily basis, the show reveals how people of every race, gender, religion and social class have problems.

Issues that are explored in-depth include:

  • Murder
  • Hate crimes
  • Racial stereotypes
  • Problems with the justice system
  • Violence
  • Interracial relationships
  • Racism
  • Police violence
  • Religious discrimination
  • Lives of immigrants in the U.S.
  • Lives of illegal immigrants in the U.S.
  • Drug dealing
  • Drug use
  • Addiction
  • Juvenile delinquents
  • Teenage development/thought-process
  • Divorce
  • Adultery
  • Abuse
  • Gangs
  • Family relationships
  • Single parents
  • Homelessness
  • Perceptions of the military and those who enlist
  • Loss of parents
  • Loss of children
  • Life after brain damage


The show throws all of these issues into the lives of characters that represent Americans from many different backgrounds. Here is a run-down of the main characters:

  • A white family whose veteran son has been murdered
    • Divorced parents
    • Mother who raised two sons while homeless in Los Angeles and is extremely racist; she is obsessed with getting justice for her son and will not believe that he dealt drugs
    • Father who had a gambling addiction, is struggling to get his life together and trying be there for his children
    • Son is in the army along with his Asian fiancee
    • Son who was murdered was a drug dealer (unknown to family)
  • A white, Christian, conservative family whose daughter was married to the man who was murdered
    • Daughter suffered extreme brain damage when her husband was murdered and doctors thought she had been raped; turns out she was sleeping with multiple other men before the murder
    • Father doesn’t want to accept that his daughter was not a good, Christian girl
    • Mother doesn’t want anything to do with daughter’s husband’s family; she wants her daughter to get better
  • A hispanic family consisting of a father, daughter and son
    • Father tries to “act white” and is overprotective
    • Son ends up in juvie for providing a car the murder was perpetrated with and later for beating a boy (who beat up his sister) with a metal pipe
    • Teenage daughter tries to help her brother, yet is in desperate need of a female guardian; she later decides to live with her aunt and uncle to be around a woman
  • A black man accused of murdering the white man
    • Claims to be innocent, but then he starts to confess to anything if he can see his girlfriend (we still don’t know the truth)
    • The police tortured him for a confession
    • Used drugs heavily before being arrested and beat up a drug dealer with a gun at one point
    • Has times of clarity in which he wants to do better with his life
  • The black man’s white girlfriend
    • A drunk and a drug addict
    • Willing to sell her body for sex so she and her boyfriend would be able to afford drugs
    • It seems that she was adopted, or that her father remarried and had a son
    • Obsessed with finding photos of interracial couples in magazines
    • Killed the drug dealer that her boyfriend beat up
    • Accused her adopted/step-brother of sexual abuse so she would not have to testify against her boyfriend
    • Tries to convince her boyfriend to run from the law and cut off his ankle bracelet while he was sleeping
  • The black man’s sister
    • A converted Muslim with a dark past
    • Leads an organized protest to save her brother
    • Fights against the injustices that her brother has endured
  • A Mexican man living in the U.S. illegally
    • After paying the hispanic boy to use his car, the man then passes the car on to someone who committed the murder
    • The police shoot him in the leg and arrest him
    • In jail, other inmates slice his cheek open with a shank when he tells them that he wants out of a gang
    • Wanted for murder in Mexico and cooperates as much as possible to get a deal to stay in America
    • Has a wife and child in Mexico; he came to America to provide for them

I know the show sounds depressing, but it sheds light on the current state of our country. Hopefully it will make you stop and think. Our words and actions are what can change society. It is our responsibility to fight injustice and steer each other toward a moral and ethical society.

Watch episodes of American Crime on ABC’s website for free.

UPDATE (Spoiler Alert)

In the episode of American Crime that aired tonight, Aubrey (the white girlfriend of the black man) confessed to killing the white man and shooting his wife. While this was shocking to many, I predicted it in the second episode. Certain remarks Aubrey made throughout the episodes confirmed my suspicions.

The reason why she shot the husband and wife are not as obvious as they may seem. She was actually defending herself from rape and murder. While that does not excuse her other crimes, the confession reveals Aubrey’s one semi-redeemable quality: she will (eventually) take responsibility for her actions if it protects those she loves.

I think this is the absolute best way to wrap up the series. No one suspected the white, blonde girl was a murderer and instead blamed the black man. Only people of color (black and hispanic) were punished for crimes in the series, even if they were innocent. The stereotype that white people are always the victims and minorities are always the criminals is despicable, yet it is rampant in America. Anyone could be a victim and anyone could be a criminal, no matter their race.

Stereotypes: Women’s Basketball (JOUR 4250)

I played basketball from the time I could walk through high school. But it wasn’t until high school and college that I realized just how many negative stereotypes surrounded women’s basketball.

Women are strong and athletic

Although women began playing basketball in 1892, a year after it was invented, the women who played had many more restrictions than men. Men were shocked when women took off their corsets to play because it was perceived as unladylike. The women were still required to wear floor length dresses that came all the way up their necks though. I can only imagine the injuries that let to! Until 1918, women played with a closed hoop, which released the ball with a pull chain. At one point, women were not even allowed physical contact during the game. All of these and more restrictions were enforced because women were seen as fragile and weak. Men thought they did not belong in sports. Many man still have that perception.

Even though women’s basketball is now played almost exactly the same as men’s basketball (with the exception of the size of the ball and placement of the three-point line), many men resent the women’s game. The WNBA audience is only a fraction of the size of the NBA audience and receives only a fraction of the media attention compared to the NBA. Overall, women’s sports receive less than five percent of all sports media coverage. 

Many men and women believe that girls and women are simply not as good at basketball as men. Perhaps this perception is the reason why women’s sports receive less coverage. While there may be male basketball players that are indeed better than some female basketball players, there are also females who are better than their male counterparts. poses this question: “Should women’s sports get just as much media coverage as men’s?” I find this particular response despicable:

“Men are better physically than women. It’s just how it is.” Is that right? I don’t think so. While extremely athletic men may have more physical capability than extremely athletic women, I am willing to bet that almost all women’s NCAA and WNBA basketball players, take Candice Parker for example, are better than the vast majority of men who do not play basketball and are not athletic.

Candace Parker - Credit

Candace Parker Credit

The responder also poses the question, “Why not have women play in men’s sports leagues?” Obviously men and women are physically different. No one would force ten-year-olds to play against 20-year-olds because of the difference in height and strength. The average height in the NBA is almost 6’7″ while the average height in the WNBA is 6′ (that’s a huge gap)!

So who is any male (especially men who do not participate in the sport) to criticize the female basketball players?

Women are viewed through society’s judgmental eyes

Aside from the false stereotype that women are weak and just not good enough to play basketball, there are the ugly, masculine and lesbian stereotypes. This is a great blog post covering these annoying stereotypes. Personally I am heterosexual, consider myself femininely attractive, yet strong, and not aggressive. I’d rather watch and listen before giving my opinion.

In my 11 years of playing competitive basketball, I came across a few girls who were gay, but who cares! Wouldn’t that happen in any sport or even in daily life? I was there to play basketball, not question who liked boys and who liked girls (palm to forehead). I think the stereotype that female basketball players are ugly stems from being sweaty, in loose-fitting clothing and wearing no makeup while playing a sport that men also play. Society tells us that women who are not wearing tight dresses and makeup are ugly. Lastly, women who have muscles are still feminine. Muscles are awesome. They make you healthy, strong and attractive. Why do women have to be soft and curvy to be considered feminine?

Ultimately, these stereotypes are a result of society telling us what is and is not acceptable. The media virtually ignoring women’s basketball only supports the stereotypes. If the media created more equality in airtime, newspapers and magazines, perhaps things would begin to change. So when will these barriers be broken? A woman is running for president, professional football players are coming out, we currently have a biracial president and same-sex marriage is legal. There is no such thing as “normal” anymore.


Sexualized Violence in the Media (JOUR 4250)

Is it ever OK to hit a woman? No. Is it ever OK to hit a man? No. The use of self-defense is really the only time that violence can be justified legally, morally and ethically.

Unfortunately, entertainment teaches us something different. Violence in the media is sexualized and made to be perceived as acceptable and sexy. One of the most recent examples of this is in Fifty Shades of Grey. I would think that the majority of people don’t want to be whipped or flogged by their lover. It’s not sexy—it’s violence (even if it is consensual).

A great example of sexualized violence in the media is Eminem and Rihanna’s music video for their song “Love the Way You Lie.”

The couple in the video beat each other brutally and then almost immediately make out. It’s definitely not normal to want to kiss and make love after your partner punches you and makes you bleed (man or woman)! The music video presents a false reality and the perception that violence can be tolerated and forgiven easily. I understand that Rihanna was in an abusive relationship (at least at some point) with Chris Brown and perhaps she was trying to tell her story. But healthy relationships do not involve violence in any way. Media like this music video convey another message though (that violence is acceptable and sexy).

The “slap-slap-kiss” concept is another unfortunate concept that appears in all types of media that conveys the negative message that violence is acceptable and leads to sexual activity.

There is no denying that men can be victims of domestic violence, but the majority (85 percent) of victims are women. One in four women will be victims of severe violence in an intimate relationship in their lifetimes. These statistics are so sad. What’s even worse is that many people say that men and women are equally responsible for violence against women or that women ask to be abused. If a woman asks for a man to abuse her, there are deeper issues in her life and the man should say no. That is only some kind of call for help. And the fault in domestic violence situations falls on the abuser. If a man abuses a woman, it’s the man’s fault. If a woman abuses a man, it’s the woman’s fault. If a woman abuses a woman, then it’s the abusive woman’s fault. There are no grey areas in these situations!


Ta-Nehisi Coates Speaks at UNT (JOUR 4250)

Ta-Nehisis Coates, a correspondent for The Atlantic, had some amazing thoughts when he came to speak at the University of North Texas on March 12, 2015. His focus was on millennials and race.

One of his best points was that race does not exist. Race is man-made. We simply made decisions about what to call people, put those names on censuses and have left them to manifest. Coats could not be more correct.


White men in power created the division between blacks and whites when the enslavement of Africans began. That enslavement stemmed from indentured servitude when the colonies were created. What does this show us? Division is all about having power and race is just a dividing line that people have created to gain power. Because the majority of exports were cotton in the 1800s, slavery was all about getting rich (and therefore gaining power) through the bodies of black people, Coates said. “Slavery is all about the right to plunder someone else’s body and steal the fruits of their work,” Coats said. That reality is so incredibly sad. Another horrible reality is that black people were stripped of their right to vote up until the mid-1900s, even though they paid tax dollars, in order to strip them of their power.


Coates repeated multiple times that race is not real. Different skin colors doesn’t make people different from each other. What makes individuals different is personalities, culture, religion, values and beliefs. In America, “black” usually means African-American. But some “black” people are Haitian, Caribbean, etc. Why is every person with light skin that is not Latino or African-American called white? Italians are different than Canadians. Poles are different than Australians.

An extremely important question arises when talking about race. What race are biracial people? Why is a half black, half white person called black? Why are they not called white? They are just as much white as they are black. Why is a half black, half Latino person called black? Why are they not called “Latino? With the increasing amount of biracial couples and children, why can’t we come to a conclusion? Although it may not be referred to the “one drop” rule anymore, why does it still have power in our society? I believe that one day, everyone will be of two or more races. This is only more proof that race is not real!


Race may not exist, but racism does. Although many believe it is the right thing to do, adding more races on ballots, survey or censuses doesn’t fix the problem, Coates said. Racism comes naturally to so many people because it has been practiced for so long and passed down through generations. It has only been publicly shunned for less than a century. Children learn racism from family members, society and entertainment. But we need to eliminate it! It is the Millennials’ responsibility to do so. If we can eliminate racism, we can eliminate race and finally see each other clearly without the man-made boundary called race.

What do we do?

1. Educate ourselves: What really makes people diverse? Why do we call people certain things?

2. Reflect: Do you say or do anything that is racist or enforces the division of different races?

3. Take action: Inform your peers, family and friends. Teach your own children (now or someday) to view other people’s differences as a positive thing and not to divide people by physical characteristics.

Come on people! Just like Coates said, some of the world’s biggest problems are being ignored because we can’t get past issues like racism. No one will care about race when we no longer have an ozone layer. No one will care about race if we no longer have water to drink or food to eat.

Coates left UNT with some words of wisdom: To move forward and solve our problems, as a species and intelligent beings, “We must be honest with ourselves about all things,” no matter how ugly or difficult the problem is.

The 2015 Oscars: Patricia Arquette’s Call for Equal Pay (JOUR 4250)

Patricia Arquette won the award for best actress in a supporting role for Boyhood at this year’s Oscars. But her acceptance speech was far from typical. She used the air time to call for equal pay for women in America. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” said Arquette. The speech sparked a fire in audience members like Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez:

Backstage she continued with her speech saying, “The truth is, the older women get, the less money they make,” she said. “It is time for us. Equal means equal. Wage equality will help ALL women of all races in America. It will also help their children and society.”

Although many supported her call to action, she also gained more than a few critics. Much of the criticism stemmed from some of her remarks backstage. Especially after she said, “The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we all fought for to fight for us now.” Critics said Arquette was implying that all issues revolving around gays and minorities in America had already been solved, and wage equality for women was the last issue. Obviously there are still many barriers of inequality for the LGBT community and minorities that have yet to be resolved.

Another criticism of her speech is that she is a well-paid actress and provides a comfortable life for her children. Firing back, Arquette brought to light that she once lived below the poverty line and just because her kids do not live in poverty doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about the kids who do.

Other criticisms included the fact that she did this at a nationally-televised, Hollywood event. It is very easy for someone to say something powerful, but taking action and creating change is difficult. Some said that as a white woman, she didn’t understand the even deeper struggle of that black and minority women for wage equality.

Clueless and Mean Girls star, Stacey Dash, contributed to the criticism on Fox News. “I mean, first of all, Patricia Arquette needs to do her history. In 1963, Kennedy passed an equal pay law. It’s still in effect. I didn’t get the memo that I didn’t have any rights,” Dash said. But just because a law is passed doesn’t mean that it will be enforced. History proves this to be true. For example, for slavery was abolished (by law), it wasn’t eradicated for years. Dash should also try to use verbs correctly. I didn’t know you could “do” history. Did you?

Unfortunately no matter how Arquette would have worded her call for equal wages, someone, somewhere would have criticized her or try to imply that she is sexist or racist. And if she’s that passionate about women’s rights, I highly doubt that she doesn’t know that the LGBT community doesn’t have equal rights all around or that minorities aren’t discriminated against.

Arquette did have many supporters though, including Hillary Clinton. Clinton thinks that Arquette is right and I agree. Women should receive equal pay. She also has some facts supporting her stance. Forbes magazine’s top 10 paid actors and actresses only list two women, compared with eight men. According to research from Wells Fargo, even in the millennial generation, men generally make more than women.

Now the question is: will this call for equality turn into action?



What are Children Subconsciously Learning? (JOUR 4250)

Recently in my race, gender and media course I was introduced to the Clark Doll Test. The test was first conducted in the 1960s by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark. The purpose of the experiment was to measure the self-esteem of black children. The kids are asked to choose between a white baby doll and black baby doll when asked questions pertaining to which doll is mean, which doll is nice, which doll they look like and which doll they would rather play with. Here is a video of the same test conducted in 2007:

The majority of the children say they would rather play with the white doll and that it is the nice doll. When asked why, one child responds, “because she’s white.” They choose the black doll when asked which doll is bad or mean. When asked why, one child responds, “because it’s black.” But the children are able to identify themselves with the black doll. I cannot explain how deeply this saddens me. The first time I watched the video I was absolutely shocked and frightened. Is this really what the majority of black children think? Why are they taught that light skin is better? Surely this can not still be true in the 21st century! Unfortunately it may be.

In 2010, Anderson Cooper conducted an interview with black and white children that cuts even deeper. (I highly suggest clicking the link above and watching the video).

All the children are aware that there are different skin colors. Some of the black children say that light skin is better than dark skin and that adults prefer light skin. One child says, “I don’t like the way brown looks.” A majority of the children believe that dark skin means ugly and dumb. A white child understands that black people were treated differently than white people, but believes that it no longer occurs. He says he sees no difference, but that some people might think black people are ugly and white people are attractive.

There is a very small minority of black children in this study who firmly state that they see no difference in any of the skin colors and that everyone should be treated equally. They believe that every skin color is beautiful. These children (and parents of these children) give me hope.

Even some children who are mixed (e.g. black and white) identify with the darker color and believe that it is ugly. How are mixed children supposed to identify? Why is a child who is black and white identified as black and not white? Or white and not black? Maybe it should be their choice.

In our society, the norm is to identify by color. I think the norm should be changed. Why does it matter what skin color anyone is? The color of your skin shouldn’t set you apart from anyone else. Culture, personal beliefs and personality should. So if we are all humans, equal and identify as Americans, then why are we still divided by our skin color?! The answer is social learning theory. Not everything children learn through social situations is wrong of course, but learning that there should be separation by skin color is limiting children (and has limited adults throughout history).

We need to teach every child not to focus on skin color. That we are all equal. There is no way to weed out every racist or bigot, but our generation can take a step in the right direction and set an example for generations to come. Equal treatment of every human being will always be the goal.

DirecTV: Humorous or Degrading? (JOUR 4250)


Hairy Rob Lowe Credit

DirecTV’s recent commercials have featured Rob Lowe and some of his imaginary alter-egos. The suave and smart Rob Lowe has DirecTV. His life is portrayed as perfect and easy. But creepy, hairy, meathead, overly paranoid, painfully awkward and scrawny arms Rob Lowe all have cable. They are portrayed as unclean, poor and miserable men. Some groups and people found these commercials very offensive.

The company’s most recent commercial is a spin-off of the Rob Lowe story line. The commercial features sports illustrated models Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigan and Nina Agdal in their natural (half-naked and on the beach) habitat versus their ugly, boring and gross alter-egos. Teigan’s alter-ego is “mom jeans” Chrissy Teigan, Davis’ is “cat lady” Hannah Davis and Agdal’s is “lunch lady” Nina Agdal. Can you guess which group has DirecTV and which has cable?


Cat Lady Hannah Davis Credit

The company probably assumed that the ad would come across as hilarious. Unfortunately, this ad only adds to the notion that women must look perfect (skinny, tanned, large bust, perfect butt and a pretty face) to be acceptable in our society and anything less is not considered beautiful, no matter how intelligent or creative a woman is. By poking fun at the mom jeans, cat lady and lunch lady women, DirecTV is teaching us that we (as women) would never want to be like them because they’re unattractive and undesirable. What about the women who are moms, have cats and work in school lunch rooms? Taylor Swift loves cats. Does that make her ugly and unwanted? I don’t think so.

The worst part of the commercial is that the models are on a beach, by the water and nowhere near a TV. So DirecTV, are you telling us that if we subscribe to your service we will look like this or this? Wow. What a revelation.

It is wrong to use negative stereotypes to define men or women. All people look different and live different lifestyles. It is unacceptable for the small percentage of people considered perfect by Hollywood standards, like many models and actors, to communicate this type of message.


The Stereotyped Minority: Women in Journalism (JOUR 4250)

Where are the women? Credit: J. Howard Miller

If women dominate the journalism major in American Universities, why is it that men dominate both print and broadcast news rooms? Why are women held to certain standards in broadcast news that men are not? Why are female sports reporters locked into certain stereotypes?

Throughout history, women have always been looked at as inferior to men in the professional world. For centuries, a woman’s “rightful place” was in the home: cooking, cleaning and childrearing. Even in 2015, there are only 25 women on the Fortune 500 CEO list. According to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), 37 percent of newspaper staffs are women and 41.1 percent of TV news staffs are women.

Women are not as likely as men to be quoted in news stories. When they are quoted, it is usually in a stereotypical way. Women tend to be referred to as wives, mothers or victims. In reality, women are executives, CEOs, athletes, researchers, etc. On the other hand, men are normally defined by their job or career in news stories, not as husbands or fathers.

In the DFW area, the majority of anchors on popular news networks are men. Female anchors are typically white, with great hair and makeup, and what Americans would consider very pretty. Older men typically report the nightly news with a younger female anchor. Some DFW networks are trying to reflect the large number of minorities in the metroplex, but most are failing. Here are a few examples. You decide if they are diverse enough in both gender and race.




A lot can be said about the sideline reporter stereotype that women fall under in sports journalism. Perhaps at one time women were not as involved in athletics and professional sports as men, but that has definitely changed. Now women are just as knowledgable and sometimes more knowledgable about athletics than men. Unfortunately, it is still very unusual for a NFL, NBA or NHL team to have a female commentator. They instead are field or sideline reporters. What will it take for women to break out of this stereotype?

One of the best examples of the stereotypes that female sports reporters face is from the Bleacher Report. It has listed “The 40 Most Popular Female Sports Reporters.” Under each reporters name is a photo and a short bio. Unfortunately, the photos are not all professional, reporter head shots. They include rather sexualized images.

Would a male sports reporter ever want a sexualized photo of himself used for professional purposes? Credit:

Would a male sports reporter ever want a sexualized photo of himself used for professional purposes? Credit

The bios list all of the important information such as the reporter’s employer and past experience. But hidden within a majority of the bios are stereotypes stemming from descriptions of the women. These include cheerleader, pageant winner, “Lingerie Football League reporter,” brother, fiancé, model, ballet dancer, field reporter, sideline reporter, beauty and beauty queen. In one bio the writer even says, “Believe it or not, [name] actually worked as a Wall Street trader at Bear Stearns.” Why would anyone not believe it? Is it that much of a stretch that a woman would be a Wall Street trader? Even if the writer is referring to her successful career after working for a company that collapsed in 2008, it still encourages a stereotype. I think the worst part of it all is that the article is written by a woman! It only enforces the negative stereotypes against female sports reporters.

So what does it all really mean? Perhaps news consumers are only getting male viewpoints. Perhaps news consumers are subconsciously and unintentionally enforcing stereotypes against women in the journalism field after being exposed to them so consistently. Is this creating a social problem? Is this reinforcing incorrect and sexist perceptions of women by men as well as other women? My answer is yes.

All those in power need to view men and women as equals inside and outside the professional world. This would increase the chance that men and women would be treated equally in the journalism field. It would also increase the chance of social norms transforming to reflect equality.