Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

First Advisor

Lori Marso




media, women, advertising, examination, image


My thesis examines the ways in which media and popular television reinforce stereotypes of femininity. Throughout the chapters, I assess whether or not various outlets of media leave space for improvement. For television series, I have focused on Desperate Housewives and Weeds. The two series incorporate several important aspects of the female American experience and lifestyle. The two television series also highlight, reinforce, and sometimes challenge the stereotypes that American women are judged by. The thesis also examines magazine. For this thesis, I have taken three magazines in particular into consideration: Cosmopolitan, InStyle, and New Beauty. The primary purpose of this thesis is to examine how images of beauty, sexuality, and experience in the domestic sphere (work, family, and parenting), either contribute to or go against past stereotypes for women. More specifically, I am looking at how popular media contributes to and reinforces, sometimes blindly, the stereotypes of women as subordinate. In the first chapter, I place an emphasis on the examination of beauty. This chapter focuses solely on magazine articles and advertising in an attempt to understand how American images of beauty reinforce stereotypes about the American woman as powerless. I examined the magazine, New Beauty, which largely discusses cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery. The magazine portrays surgical procedures in a positive light, and even recommends which doctors are best to consult when getting plastic surgery. Additionally, I used advertisements and articles in InStyle to ensure that messages provided by the media were not simply in one particular magazine.