Does TLC Participate in the Exploitation of Women?

TLC. formerly known as The Learning Channel, has become a place to watch voyeuristic shows. That alone is disturbing, but what’s more disturbing is that many of these shows seem to exploit women. What Not to Wear, which ran from 2003-2013, performed makeovers on infinitely more women than men, and while Stacy and Clinton were encouraging toward their contributors, one could argue the message was, "Women can’t get away with dressing less than their best, ever."

What Not to Wear is not the only example. In five seasons of My 600-Lb Life, the vast majority of obese contributors have been women (as many as 80% in a 10-episode season). Counting On focuses on Jessa, Jill, and the other Duggar women instead of the Duggar men, playing up the girls’ pregnancies, weddings, and other "traditional" activities. Toddlers and Tiaras featured airbrushed, enhanced beauty pageant participants as young as 2-3 years old.

Using these examples and any others you might like, discuss whether TLC is in fact exploiting women over men. If so, do they mean to do it, or are they just trying to net a bigger female audience? Is that a form of manipulation and if yes, is it okay? Why does TLC not seem as focused on men, men’s lifestyles, or the self-improvement of men who might be overweight, sloppily dressed, etc.? Is TLC promoting or demeaning traditional women’s roles such as wife and mother, and if yes, why?

  • Another good question would be what exactly are we learning from the programs on "The Learning Channel"??? Even educational channels are now giving in to the 'reality show' boom, much to the dismay of us who grew up watching shows that actually taught us something. You bring up an interesting point that may point to a bigger problem within our society. – MikeySheff 5 years ago
  • I was just thinking about that (ironically while watching TLC). Why call it The Learning Channel, because you're not actively teaching things people need to know. Yes, you could argue, for instance, that My 600-Lb Life teaches people about health--but do you need to stick a 750-pound woman in front of us, and say what a pig she is, to do it? Do you need to use toddlers with blonde wigs and fake teeth to decry unrealistic standards of beauty (when actually, you're doing the opposite)? Now that I think of it, TLC isn't even the only guilty channel. Have you seen the "History Channel" lately? – Stephanie M. 5 years ago

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