By now it is pretty likely you have heard about Wisconsin news anchor, Jennifer Livingston's response to an email from a viewer about her being overweight. It was also his opinion that she was an “unsuitable role model for young people, especially young girls, because she is overweight.” Livingston equated the disparaging email sent to her as a form of being bullied.
One particular point that the news anchor made resonated with me -- she stated that she was “more than a number on a scale.” Women are too often judged and valued by their looks rather than their ability and the media is a very real culprit in perpetuating this view.
This reminded me of an excellent movie called “Miss Representation.” It asserts that there are very damaging messages being sent to young girls via the media and not enough powerful women as role models. Here is the description of the film from the website.
About the film
Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (90 min; TV-14 DL) 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. The film 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 behaviors.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.
“It’s all about the body, not about the brain,” says a young woman on the trailer.
Once you see the trailer, I recommend you watch the movie.
The website for Miss Representation offers media literacy curriculum appropriate for students of ages K through college. Here are some of the key points the lessons address.
- Identify different types of media and understand that media communicates and teaches individuals ideas.
- Think critically about how stereotypes of femininity and masculinity limit girls and boys.
- Examine the impact media has on a woman’s ability to see herself as a leader and obtain a leadership position.
- Understand how behind the scenes decisions affect the way gender is represented in media and impact our culture.
- Become engaged in efforts to influence positive change in media and advertising industries.
For more information on the movie visit the website at http://www.missrepresentation.org
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