Date of Award


Degree Name

Communication Studies


College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Bertram Gross

Second Advisor

Camilla Brammer

Third Advisor

Robert Bookwalter

Fourth Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


Today the American culture makes the claim that “image is everything.” Messages bombard the public with how to think, feel and look via the media. Programs on television that target women vary in topics from fitness, talk shows, movies, and home shopping to an endless array of soap operas. Television has provided a medium that visually and aurally appeals to viewers in a way that no other medium can. The messages of the ideal woman on television are often subtle and couched within the pretense of entertainment. Television has produced many ideal images of women through the years: June Cleaver, Miss America, Murphy Brown, Superwoman and Victoria’s Secret ideal, but none have met such opposition as the Martha Stewart ideal.

Turn on the television or pick up a magazine and chances are someone is mentioning Martha Stewart. She has become the woman that many either “love” “love to loathe”. Within a short period of time Martha Stewart has evolved into a controversial cultural icon. Stewart grew up in Nutley, New Jersey with five other children. Her mother was a schoolteacher and homemaker who taught her children the basics of cooking, baking, canning and sewing. Her father was a pharmaceutical salesman who instilled a love of gardening within his family. Stewart was later able to parlay these skills into a lucrative career. Stewart pursued her love of nostalgia and design at Barnard College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history and architectural history. In 1976, she left her career as a stock broker and began operating a small catering company. From this meager beginning, she wrote her first book Entertaining in 1981. Stewart’s success as an author prompted her to start circulating her own magazine Martha Stewart Living in 1991. In 1996, she received the Matrix Award for her magazine honoring her as an outstanding woman in the loyal audience of 2 million readers (Stewart [On-line], 1998). Currently, this 54 year old business woman is running her own decorator product line out of every K-Mart in America (Beck, 1997, Herald Dispatch), writing a syndicated news column carried by 200 newspapers, operating a mail-order catalog, as well as spearheading a newly revised daily TV program, Martha Stewart Weekdays, all from the headquarters of Martha Stewart Omnimedia (Stewart [On-line], 1998).


Women – Identity.

Television and women.

Women – Social conditions.