Miss Representation: How I Look Is What Matters
Girls get the message early on that the most important thing is how they look. Too often their self-worth depends upon it.
Miss Representation premiered last week on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, seeking to combat that unfortunate reality. The film opens our eyes to all that creates the message. And offers change.
From the time they’re small, little girls are told they’re pretty – or notice that they’re not told that. They receive gifts of play makeup and vanity sets. They watch endless repeats of Disney princesses on DVD, buy beautiful princess dolls, and then graduate to Barbie or Bratz. All of whom have extensive wardrobes. It’s all about being pretty. Meanwhile, girls and women are bombarded with media images of impossibly beautiful women who are photoshopped up the wazoo, modeling what they’re supposed to look like.
Who’s popular in middle school and high school? Pretty girls. By the time they’re in college young women are under relentless pressure to be hot, as if that’s the most important thing in the world.
Media creates consciousness, but women don’t have much control over media. As Miss Representation tells us, women hold only 3% of the clout positions in publishing, advertising, telecommunications, and entertainment. And women comprise only 16% of producers, writers, directors and editors.
And so women come to see themselves through men’s eyes.
Meanwhile, media makes its money through advertising. And advertising works by making people feel bad about themselves so that they’ll buy products to “help.” But if the feminine ideal is impossible to achieve, women can buy an endless stream of products and still feel eternally insecure.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation’s writer-director, makes this observation:
When youth are engaging in cutting and other forms of self-injury, when 65% of American women have eating disorders, when depression rates have doubled in the past ten years, when plastic surgery has tripled in the past decade amongst youth in particular; when you look at that you think Something is wrong. This is not healthy.
Fashion magazines are especially harmful. Girls and women who read them have worse body images than those who don’t. But women aren’t the only ones affected. Just looking at those “perfect” models can leave men finding real women less attractive, too.
So women and men who compare women to unattainable ideals both end up dissatisfied and estranged from each other.
Too many women sit in their inadequate, one-dimensional corners opposite too many men who do the same thing.
And no one is better off.
Posted on October 26, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged body image, feminism, gender, Miss Representation, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.