Media products, in one way or the other, have influenced the prevailing stereotypes in our society. The notorious male gaze has played an essential role in creating this hostile environment, specifically for women.
"Scars to your beautiful" by Alessia Cara is one song that has attempted to break that idea. It eloquently explains how the male gaze has pushed women to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.
She craves, attention she praises, an image
She prays to be, sculpted by the sculptor
This "image" is the unrealistic beauty standard women think they need to fit in.
She has dreams to be an envy, so she's starving
You know, covergirls eat nothing
Women are expected to fit the model or "covergirl" figure for which they feel the need to starve themselves.
Similar themes are discussed in other songs.
Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?
Such lyrics inculcate the feeling that woman only needs to be loved for their physical appearance, i.e. when they look a particular type (young and beautiful). It makes women question their worth.
But she wears short skirts
I wear T-shirts
She's Cheer Captain, and I'm on the bleachers
These lines again highlight the need for girls to dress a certain way (wear revealing clothes) to be capable of being loved.
The ironic thing is that these two songs are written by women, which shows that women see themselves through the "male gaze," which is talked about by Cara in her music:
She don't see her perfect
She doesn't understand she's worth it
Or that beauty goes deeper than the surface
This shows how much this idea of being perfect (the one acceptable to the male gaze) is internalized by women. Cara's song breaks this male gaze-dominated mentality by informing that every woman is beautiful in their way and they don't need to change themselves to become desirable to men.
You should know you're beautiful just the way you are
And you don't have to change a thing
The world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful
We're stars and we're beautiful
Such songs empower women and break the stereotypical mentality of both men and women through awareness. Therefore, media products can both positively and negatively impact the audience