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Do reality TV shows produce negative female role models?

ROLE MODELS: The Kardashian sisters

Each week we ask writers with contrasting opinions to debate the question…


HOW IRONIC that these ‘real’ women can be regarded as role models considering most of their aspirations revolve around fake boobs and rich men. Reality TV shows including The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE), Made in Chelsea and Keeping Up With The Kardashians deliver the message that you have to have money and materials to achieve happiness.

It’s a crazy bubble of airhead overdrive whereby women loyally stand by their cheating boyfriends, constantly talk about their non-existent weight issues and are apparently too fearful to sport their natural beauty. I appreciate that men within these programmes are also not the most positive of role models. However, I feel producers take advantage of the Barbie doll image and expect women in their cast to compete in a race to fulfil the most unintellectual portrayal imaginable.

Earlier this year, Girlguiding UK conducted a report which found that reality TV programmes such as TOWIE and Made in Chelsea “shaped girls views of relationships and their own behaviour". Therefore, to say that impressionable young girls are not affected is ignorant.

Examples of other dazed and dumbed down women appear throughout MTV’s The Valleys. The show presents women as meat in the eyes of the men around them yet these females are far from victims. They are completely aware of their surroundings and do not own an ounce of class or ambition. It appears to be a race for airtime – airtime only achieved when they are involved in one sexual antic or another.

This has nothing to do with parenting. Mothers sending their children to bed before these shows are broadcast do not remove the negative role models featured within them. In fact, the issue extends far beyond children; these women are hardly positive role models for mothers too. Clearly, Reality TV needs to get real.



FIRST OF all I would like to express this simple ‘fact’ of knowledge for those reading this. (With a tone of sarcasm may I add!)

Did you know that reality TV shows are made simply for entertainment purposes only? “REAL-ITY” does not exist in any of these shows that grace our TV screens daily.

The Only Way is Essex, Made in Chelsea and the Geordie Shore are clear examples of the producers’ perception of what is ‘current’ and deemed as ‘entertainment content’ for the shows’ mass audience. These ‘sorry’ people (characters) should not feel they have any level of responsibility to society where they must conform to becoming role models; their role is to entertain not educate!

At the beginning of each ‘TOWIE’ episode aired, it outlines without fail that the storyline has been animated for the viewer’s pleasure. This screams to me as a viewer, that the 60 minutes of film is in fact fabricated and dramatised for a REACTION.

So what if they discuss ‘boob jobs, cellulite, hair removal, lip collagen or make up tips’? Are they educating us with new information?

Are we as a society not bombarded with these body images and perceptions of females in ‘celeb culture’ from magazine publications daily?

The answer is yes! Should we shut down these magazine publications that produce such content? NO!

Should we close our eyes altogether and pretend that we are not constantly suffocated by ‘body image’ references across all forms of media channels?

When I was growing up I had a real understanding of television shows and if my mother felt that something I was watching was inappropriate for my age, the TV would be switched off immediately.

If you are a parent and you have a daughter who is under the age of 16 who is clearly impressionable, then it’s your responsibility to clearly outline the concept of reality TV.

Do not ‘attack’ reality TV for what it really is and please do not look for someone to blame. We have to start at the root of origination, which is ‘celebrity culture’ and this has existed since the test of time.

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