By Ali Lewis, Data and Web Manager
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. –Alice Walker
I heard about Miss Representation through the powers of Facebook. The trailer was making its rounds on my friends’ pages. I watched and immediately felt a surge of “Yes! YES! This is what I have been feeling but unable to express!”
I watched the premiere on OWN with my three daughters, my son, two neighbors and one of their teenage sons. The film was eye-opening, empowering, and angering for everyone in my house that night.
It started with a slew of stats about media consumption:
- American teenagers spend 31 hours a week watching TV.
- 17 hours a week listening to music.
- 3 hours a week watching movies.
- 4 hours a week reading magazines.
- 10 hours a week online.
That’s 65 hours a week or 9.5 hours each day! (Side note: Parents, get your kids outside and off the electronics! Take their phones, laptops, and televisions away! They’re addicted and it’s gonna be tough. They’ll yell and tell you they hate you. Be strong. You can do it.)
Women have come so far, but it seems that we’re moving backwards at the moment. Female politicians receive more news coverage for their appearance than their politics. Female news anchors dress scantily to increase ratings. Images of models are photoshopped to make them unrealistically thin. Women are more than mini-skirts and displays of décolletage.
The film gave us more stats:
- 78% of girls hate their bodies by the age of 15.
- 65% have an eating disorder.
- 17% cut themselves.
- Cosmetic surgeries have quadrupled on women ages 17 from 1997 to 2007 and have increased six times more since.
- Woman are 51% of the population, but only 17% of Congress and 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs
As women we need to take a stand to make our daughters and other young women have healthy views of reality and themselves. What is shown in the media is not reality. It’s not defined by what you see in movies, magazines, and television shows. Your reality is what you live and see daily. Your reality is who you are and what you do.
What can we do to make a change in the media and in our lives?
Speak up. Contact the networks, shows, production companies, and advertisers when you see content that you don’t approve of.
Shut it off. Don’t watch shows and movies that objectify women. Boycott ones that only portray women as shallow, vapid beauty queens.
Show the boys. Teach boys and men that objectifying girls and women is not right. A person is more than their appearance. They are their experience, personality, and minds.
Show the girls. Teach your daughters and other girls in your life to believe in themselves. Tell them they do not have to be waif-like sex kittens to be happy, successful people. More important that teaching and telling, however, is showing them by doing it yourself.
Support each other. As women, we must take care of each other. Cut out the catty, backbiting, and nastiness. Be kind to one another. Be helpful. Stand up for each other.
You must be the change you want to see in the world. –Mahatma Gandhi