We love watching television and movies, but we rarely consider their psychological impact on our lives. The main characters in TV and movies have traditionally been male, but in the past two decades, we have seen a movement towards strong female characters. 
The shift is changing the film industry and how people think, as the industry always has. The fact is that there is a significant psychological impact of watching strong female characters in TV and movies, especially on girls and women. 
Read on to find out how they impact us.

Questioning of Traditional Gender Roles

Changes in society are leading many people to question traditional gender roles, and strong female characters in TV and movies have much to do with them. Men have traditionally had to be providers and protectors, but as we know, women can also provide for and protect their families, as TV shows and movies are clearly showing. 
Significant changes are happening where more female characters are shown to lead corporations or be entrepreneurs instead of being stay-at-home wives or nurses. The psychological impact of questioning traditional gender roles is that it makes both boys and girls become psychologically free of these roles. They can choose which roles they want to play in life regardless of their gender.

Self Image

Psychologically, your self-image contributes significantly to your self-worth. Unfortunately, in yesteryears, the media portrayed female characters in a particular way, especially viewing thinner and light-skinned women as more attractive. The psychological impact of such portrayal is that it makes darker and curvier women feel less attractive than their other women. 
You will now see women of all shapes and sizes playing strong characters on TV. They are also on 12past12.com as female role models, which would have been very rare in the past. The psychological impact of portraying women of various shapes and sizes as strong female lead characters in TV and movies is that young girls have a better self-image and hence more self-worth. 
A young girl can look at an actress like Viola Davis and know she can still be one of the best in her field even though she does not fit the bill of the traditional Hollywood actress.

Mental Health Issues

Anxiety and depression are two mental health disorders plaguing our society. According to an article in The Atlantic, the depiction of sexual violence in TV and movies affects the mental health of young girls and boys. 
According to the article, over 150 male and female students in the Southern United States watched shows that included sexuality and violence. They were then surveyed about their attitudes towards women and then evaluated for symptoms of depression and anxiety. 
The article states that men who watched sexually violent shows, including submissive women, had a more negative attitude towards women than the control group. However, they did not have the same effect when they watched TV shows with women playing strong TV characters. 
On the other hand, females who watched TV shows with submissive female characters had twice the anxiety of those who watched shows with strong female characters. The latter has less anxiety than the control group. 
The psychological implication is that TV shows and how they portray women affect both male and female views on women. They also affect their anxiety and depression levels, but more research is undoubtedly necessary.

Competence and Empowerment

Most TV series and movies have often portrayed women as weak and needing a man to save them. For example, you will find many lead male TV characters mansplaining to female characters, which makes the assumption they are not as competent. 
On the contrary, current TV shows and movies have strong female characters who can save themselves and others. They are also competent while occupying the same positions as men.
The psychological impact of portraying female characters as strong and competent is empowering, especially to women. Young girls can watch TV series and movies, and they will be encouraged, knowing that no position or career is impossible for them. It gives them a lot of confidence to pursue their life goals.
The average American spends four hours each day watching TV. Therefore, it is not surprising that TV and movies affect our minds. The psychological impact of watching strong female characters in TV and movies is substantial. It affects girls' self-image, questions traditional gender roles, and impacts mental health. 
It also affects how girls think about competence and empower them. Generally, it has a positive effect, so it is a trend that will continue. 


Claire Ward