Dear Media – what’s to be: pro or anti women??


This was my response several years ago in the Irish Examiner who, not for the first time in my experience, appear to be confused as to which cause they are championing: The promotion and protection of women’s rights, or the war on womens’ self esteem via media driven unrealistic body image and portrayal. As a psychotherapist I witness daily the results of poor body image and low self esteem: self loathing, disordered eating, depressed feelings, social withdrawal.. I could go on.

These ‘symptoms’ are also presented by the sex industry workers with whom I have had contact. 


I refer to your two big selling points on Friday 22nd on June last:
Firstly an exposé on the sex industry in Cork. This industry by its very nature objectifies, exploits and sexualises women, and the impression you hope to communicate is one of disapproval, am I right?
And then, on the same day, we are presented with a lead story, cover and inner photograph in your Feelgood supplement which objectifies, exploits and sexualises women. ( Why the two naked pictures ? And really, would a woman be smiling serenely in a cold bath???). Once again you are promoting ways to conform to the current ideal body image and facilitating your readers in their media driven quest to judge and feel bad about themselves and each other.

Which is it? Do you object to women being used and treated as second class citizens? Or do you want women to continue to feel so bad about the way they live and look that they will remain second class citizens without questioning. You and other media provide powerful encouragement on a daily basis. You’re in a position of huge responsibility and I’m so sorry to see, yet again, that you are not choosing to use this position in a way that is helpful.


Sally O’Reilly , BA Psych, MA CounsPsych, MIAHIP, SIAHIP, MEAP
Counselling Psychologist, Psychotherapist & Supervisor.

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