“Miss Representation”: A True Eye-Opener to Gender Discrimination

Earlier this afternoon, I had nothing planned but to drag myself through my remaining classes, shovel down dinner, and crawl into bed for an early night. However, while I was browsing Facebook before my biology lecture (instead of working on my paper about coral reef extinction for said class), I noticed I had an event invitation to a screening of “Miss Representation.” The name rung a bell, but I wasn’t completely sure why, so I opened the invitation. It was described as a documentary about the way media portrays women and the effects it has on our society. They also provided a link to the surprisingly engaging trailer.

Now, normally I am not a documentary person. But something about this caught my attention, and I decided this was a better idea than calling it an early night like my lazy self wanted to.

I won’t give you every detail of my viewing experience, but I can say that this movie actually changed my view. I have never been so moved by a film: it was the perfect combination of seriousness, humor, and emotion, and got it’s point across well. What matters, though, is my reaction after the film.

The way women are portrayed by the media is not something I ever questioned. And I should have a long time ago. I think I didn’t because I grew up with a supportive family and really did not have any constant body issues until after high school. I was confident and athletic in middle school, and did not pay much attention to what I, or anyone else, was wearing. I wore what I felt comfortable in and I figured that’s what everyone else was doing, too. Then I went to a Catholic high school, where everyone wore uniforms. Yes, some people perked up their uniforms with accessories, but again, it was never something I paid attention to and I assumed no one else did. If someone wanted to express their individuality, that was great, and if they didn’t, that was just fine by me as well.

However, college opened my eyes to the amount of pressure women put on their appearance. I felt the pressure to eat well and go to the gym not because I wanted to be healthy, but because all the other girls in my hallway did and talked about losing weight. I began to feel more self-conscious, but it never got to a dangerous level because of my supportive family, friends, and boyfriend. But I understood how it could turn downhill quickly.

What so many girls see when they look in the mirror — it shouldn’t be this way

The way the media objectifies women is not okay. I realize this, but almost everything I watch on TV, listen to on the radio, or read in magazines supports the degradation of women and the diminishment to nothing more than a body. That is not fair to us, especially at the highly-esteemed university we attend. We are here for a reason, and we’re all much more than how we look. I don’t mean to get all feminist, but I don’t think enough girls realize that their body is not what defines them.

I’m not saying it isn’t okay to want to look put together and nice. But you need to do it for the right reasons, not because a male-driven society says you should. And guys, I’m not trying to blame all of you for this diminishment of women’s talents, because I know a lot of you do not do this. But as a society, many of the men do believe that a women’s body is her most important asset and you can help change that, too, not just the women. And girls, we need to stop seeing each other as enemies, and try to understand one another better. We can’t get anywhere if we help with the diminishment of others of our gender.

I just had all these thoughts, and they may just sound like ramblings, but my main point is that we should all be trying to change the way our society treats the female gender. We all have the intelligence and power to do so; it’s just a matter of taking the first steps.

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I encourage all of you to check out the film. It’s a great use of 90 minutes of your time.

Kaitlin Schuler

Hey all! I'm a 20 year old female from the southern suburbs of Chicago. I've been in love with books since I was a babe in swaddling clothes, and that has been the one constant relationship in my life. I also love hot chocolate, hockey, hot dogs, and hoe-downs. Well...maybe not the last one. Though I've never been, so that could change! Keep up with my posts and learn more about this hockey-loving, hot chocolate-drinking girl.

2 thoughts to ““Miss Representation”: A True Eye-Opener to Gender Discrimination”

  1. Kaitlin, thank you so much for this post. I watched the trailer for Miss Representation, and it looks like something I need to get my hands on and watch. I thought it was really interesting that they point out how it seems like more derogatory things are said towards more powerful women. I have to wonder if this has something to do with people feeling threatened by a beautiful woman being in such a position of power—she couldn’t possibly be sexy and smart, right? When women are in power, they take a lot of crap for it. I couldn’t believe the clip from Fox News where, in response to being asked what problems could arise from a woman being in the Oval Office, that man had the nerve to respond with “You mean besides the PMS and the mood swings?” Honestly, that was horrifying. I can’t believe that anyone would even think to say that, let along on national TV.

    But, like you said, the media has created ridiculous ideals for women. Everywhere we look, women have “perfect” bodies or are fighting to obtain them. It’s so sad. There are such unrealistic pictures of women that are painted by the media, yet people think that is the standard. Thank you again for bringing this issue to our attention. I agree with you that it is our job to try to combat such unrealistic ideals and damaging treatment of our bodies. Little by little, we can try to improve the expectations out there.

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