The visual messages conveyed by and about the female characters on Friends reinforce hegemonic ideals of femininity and an ideal female body image that is excessively thin. Messages of narcissism, voyeurism, and fetishism draw adolescent female viewers to identify with the images, characteristics, and behaviors of Rachel and Monica as models and to distance themselves from the images, characteristics, and behaviors of Phoebe and “Fat Monica” as anti-models. The messages sometimes overtly and often covertly perpetuate hegemonic stereotypes about women. Messages advocate that the ideal female body image is a sex object, and the most desirable sex objects are excessively thin. Implications from this analysis include: (1) Happiness and success for women are defined and restricted by hegemony. (2) “Beauty” is crucial to a young woman’s happiness and success. (3) “Beautiful women” are excessively thin at all costs, even costs related to physical health and professional achievement.
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Sellnow, Deanna and Ziniel, Jonna Reule
"Rhetorical Strategies of Visual Pleasure in Situation Comedies: 'Friends' and Female Body Image,"
Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota Journal: Vol. 34
, Article 6.
Available at: https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/ctamj/vol34/iss1/6