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