Girls on TV are always pretty on the outside

(Courtesy of Nickelodeon's…)
December 13, 2013|By Liz Atwood, For The Baltimore Sun

Spend a little time watching tween television shows and one thing quickly becomes apparent. The girl characters might be smart or ditzy, athletic or brainy, nice or mean, but above else, they are attractive.

Researchers at the University of Delaware and University of Missouri studied television shows on Nickelodeon, Disney and the Cartoon Network and found there were no unattractive girls on any of the shows.  In addition, the girls often were portrayed as concerned about their looks or receiving comments about their appearance.

The reality is stretched further because many of the female actors on these tween shows are several years older than the characters they play.

Meanwhile, the researchers found boy characters had a range of looks, including some who were not so attractive.

For years, television shows have been criticized for unrealistic portrayals of girls and women. Those of us who grew up in the 1970s remember the perky TV moms on "The Brady Bunch" and "The Partridge Family." The only surprise is that 40 years later the situation hasn’t improved much.

Liz Atwood is a former Baltimore Sun features editor who teaches journalism at Hood College. She is the mother of two sons, ages 12 and 16.

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