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Miss Representation

October 31, 2011

Miss Representation 8 min. Trailer 8/23/11 from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

Please watch the preview above if you can.

I was fortunate to watch this documentary recently on OWN. The basic premise is the misrepresentation of women in the media, hence the title.

Some surprising (and some not so surprising) facts from the film:

  • American teenagers consume over 10 hours of media a day
  • Girls receive the message that their worth is based solely on how they look. Boys receive the message that looks are what is important about girls. Women are socialized to be insecure.
  • Women make up 51% of the US Population, but only 17% of Congress
  • The media is derogatory to the most powerful women in the country; calling Hillary Clinton a “bitch” or refering to Sarah Palin as “masturbation material”.
  • The U.S. is 90th in the world in terms of women representation in legislature. Cuba, China, and Iraq all rank above the United States
  • There have only been 34 female governors. There have been over 2000 male governors.
  • This media climate is creating a world where there is increasing violence against women.  1 in 6 women has been the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. 15% of these victims are under the age of 12. For more information on sexual assault and counseling services in your area, please visit RAINN

How do we begin to fix this problem?

“You can’t be what you can’t see” -Marie Wilson, The White House Project

What Marie means by this is that women and girls need to see positive images reflected back to them in the media and in reality. Women need to see powerful females in leading roles of television shows and movies. Women need to see girls being praised for their intellect or their wit instead of their bodies.

Ultimately, the media is a tool. It can be used for good or used for harm. We have the power to support what we want to see in the media. We can vote with our wallets and not purchase products where the advertisement demeans women. If you’d like to get involved with the Miss Representation movement you can do so here.

The film was interesting, compelling, upsetting, unique, and motivational. It was emotional for me in some ways because even though I know I’m intelligent and I have a master’s degree, I saw myself in the insecurities women mentioned in the film. I felt that familiar shame washing over me as I watched. I can clearly see how the media messages I’ve received over my lifetime have impacted me and made me feel not good enough. not thin enough. not pretty enough. not worthy enough.

I see how these messages and the feelings they manifested inside of me led me to seek approval and attention from men in the wrong ways and eventually be put in dangerous situations. The film also mentioned how girls and women are hungry for strong female mentors. I definitely was. I needed a strong, confident woman I could talk to in middle school and high school… even at the beginning of college. I know I would have made different, better choices if I’d had someone to talk to and guide me. Unfortunately, for many reasons, I felt like I couldn’t talk to my parents, and I’m sure many girls feel the same way because of their family circumstances. I haven’t figured out how yet, but it is so important to me that girls feel empowered at a young age that I hope to work to help girls achieve strong self-esteem. I want to be that encouraging voice for a girl.

In the end, I’m definitely glad I watched the film. It really made me think and reflect, as well as want to take action. I hope you will seek out an opportunity to watch it if you haven’t already seen it. You can find (or host!) a screening by visiting this website. It is also being re-aired on November 12 at 11am on OWN, so set your DVR.

Q: Do you think the media has impacted your self-image/self-esteem?

Q: How do you combat media stereotyping in your life?


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