Have you ever opened a magazine, watched a TV show, or saw a movie where the woman was represented solely based on her physical appearance and sexuality? A documentary called Miss Representation brings to light the issue of how women are portrayed in the media.
From a very young age girls and young women are bombarded with images which focuses on their beauty and physical appearance, rather than developing their mind, body, and soul. With the emphasis on appearances only, feelings turn to self-doubt, inadequacy and even depression. Who can really measure up to photoshopped ideals? No one.
As a society, we are more interested in what a woman wears than what she has to say. As I scroll through social media this disparity is rampant, women feel the need to adhere to this scantily clad stereotype, not realizing there is more out there. Her mind matters, her opinion matters, and she is worth more!
“The media is selling the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders. Boys learn that their success is tied to dominance, power, and aggression. We must value people as whole human beings, not gendered stereotypes.” –therepresentationproject.org
The documentary taps into the very heart of the issue, what we see is what we believe. What comes from the TV, the internet, and magazines is how we, as women, are perceived. In a majority of instances women play a very specific role of being beautiful, ageless, and sexy. In magazine interviews most often the woman is asked what her favorite perfume is or brand of shoe, not about her education or thoughts on global warming.
The narrator voices her concern for her young daughter and the pressures of society to be everything but smart. Shouldn’t we value an intellectual mind and actual contributions over physical appearances only?
“I think one of the worst stereotypes in reality TV is this notion that women exist
to be decorative. Women exist to be stupid. Women are considered gold-diggers. Women are considered bitchy, catty, manipulative, vindictive, not to be trusted,
especially by other women.” -Jane Fonda, Miss Representation
The numbers appear in blue smoke across the screen: women on average spend up to $15,000 a year on beauty products, makeup, hair coloring, teeth whitening, etc. But why are women going in debt for handbags, makeup, and clothes, instead of getting degrees? Society’s perceptions and values are sadly determined by the media, it projects onto women the efficacy of being well-dressed, beautiful and thin but nothing more!
I noticed myself silently nodding as I watched the documentary and the lightbulbs began to click on: aging is ok, not being perfect is ok, not being a size 2 is ok, my worth is not tied up in how I look. This film is a firm start to changing perceptions, even mine.
“The film draws back a curtain to reveal a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see – how the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls makes it difficult for women to feel powerful and achieve leadership positions.” –therepresentationproject.org
In addition to physicalities, there are other media misnterpetations. Women are not depicted as supportive of one another – instead it is one big harrowing catfight. You’d only need to watch reality TV for a few minutes to prove this very point. What we see is women fighting, arguing, competing, critiquing, and shaming. This is what we as viewers are internalizing from the media and this is what young girls are learning. There is plenty of room for everyone to be great, if we support other women we can change the storyline.
So how do we begin to fix this type of thinking and skewed perception? Watch the film to find out. Miss Representation is now on Netflix, or you can stream it online. Let me know what YOU think about the documentary and today’s portrayal of women in media.