“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.” ~ missrepresentation.org
Attending a special one-night screening of the documentary ‘Miss Representation’ last week, I experienced tears streaming down my face, not once, but several times. Many times. Countless times. Perhaps I was constantly crying, I’m not sure. I was mentally charged and emotionally moved, and my chest hurt trying to contain it all.
I’d known beforehand that this film was important; I’d read several blurbs about it and watched the trailer and noticed a connection to my personal mission of changing body image perception. So when I learned that ‘Miss Representation’ was showing in town for a night, I went online and purchased a ticket that very moment. But I had no idea how truly poignant the documentary would be until it played before me at a sold-out theater packed with women, girls and even a few men.
This film went far deeper than the body image concept… much, much deeper. Within the first ten minutes, my heart was racing and tears of frustration and compassion were falling, sparked by the initial montage of degrading female imagery spinning across the screen and a teenage girl discussing how lost she feels in society ~ confused as to who she is, what’s expected of her and where she fits into any of it.
The gross misrepresentation of females in the media is perhaps far more prevalent than any of us realize. And our young people are exposed to it. All the time.
“In one week American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, 10 hours online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.” ~ missrepresentation.org
That’s an absurd amount of time. I have a 13-year-old son; I am just as concerned for him as I am for young girls ~ what he’s being exposed to, how he’s digesting the nonsense, what his perception of a woman is. In our home, we don’t watch much television, and we have countless, open conversations, so I know that, as a mother, I am doing my part in keeping him focused on how to filter through the bullshit. But I can only plant the seed and hope that it grows large enough to overshadow what he’ll be exposed to out in the “real” world.
In the ‘Miss Representation’ film, a couple of middle-to-high-school-age boys who were interviewed strongly denounced objectifying women, stating that they fully support and respect their female counterparts as equals, capable of holding important positions in society. But how many other young boys/men do you think hold similar ideals…?
How do we counteract what is thrust in the faces of not only our young people but the entire American population?
- Turn off the television; Make a conscious effort to prevent media trash from filtering into the home.
- Focus on programs and films that refrain from exploiting female characters (although this is becoming more and more difficult to find)
- Refuse to purchase print media that caters to sexism and false body image, especially entertainment tabloids.
- Promote positive reinforcement in your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, whenever and wherever you can; Help them to realize their own self-worth; Hold open and honest conversations about what is being presented.
- Mentor a youth; Teach empowerment; Coach a young girl in how to become a leader.
- Support females in political, business and other leadership positions.
- Visit the missrepresentation.org website and pledge your commitment to changing current distorted societal standards.
- Plan on watching the film with people in your life when it becomes available to you and have discussions about it.
For other inspiring ideas, please visit the ‘Take Action’ page:
Remember, you DO have the power to promote change in the world!