This past week, my wife and I watched the documentary Miss Representation . This 90 minute film shows the downside of the media portrayal of young women and uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.
Miss Representation challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.
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 behavior.
My takeaway on the media portrayal of young women
My takeaway is that the plethora of unrealistic portrayals of women and girls has an insidious effect not just on the psyches of young girls, but also on boys who are bombarded with the same messages on a daily basis. While it is not realistic to expect media and entertainment streams to immediately correct the decades long misrepresentations of woman and girls, it is incumbent on parents to help filter what children watch in all medias and to provide context where little or none is provided in the media.
Responsible parents of both boys and girls must take a stand to insure that both genders grow up with healthy and realistic portrayals woman and girls – more than half of the people in our country.