By BodyMatters therapist Sarah McMahon
When we talk about the negative role the media has on young girls, I think we automatically defer to the narrow beauty ideal that is perpetuated through the homogenised look of models & the overuse of photoshop. The script is very narrow indeed. However the problem is bigger than this & I encourage you to consider what alternative scripts for females there actually are- other than simply “looking pretty”. Very few, I would suggest, that are positive & inspiring.
Missrepresentation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s award winning documentary, reviews just this: the medias representation of women in American culture. In particular it reveals disparaging portrayals of women in positions of power & influence. It further exposes a vicious cycle where by aspirational female figures are perpetually objectified & treated horrifically, simultaneously denying young girls strong female role models. And so the impact that the media has on females is profound- undermining women who dare to do more than “look pretty” & sending a very strong message to young girls that if they do do any more than that they are altogether “bad”.
Misrepresentation will be screened in Sydney this forthcoming Tuesday . The screening will be delivered by activist group Think Act Change. I asked Melinda Tankard Reist, who will be speaking at the event, about her thoughts on the film:
“What impacted me most were the specific examples of the ways women in public life were ripped apart on the basis of their physical appearance. The treatment of Hilary Clinton especially stood out. The vitriol & hatred expressed toward women who were elected representatives or in other leadership roles was extraordinary- to have it collated in that way, one hate spiel after another, I found especially confronting”.
Why would anyone chose to watch something so disturbing, you may ask? Melinda comments that “it is an excellent tool to propel people into action”. It seems “Think Act Change” is aptly named! I am looking forward to contributing to the panel discussion with Ines Almeida, founder of Towards The Stars & Brave Girls Want , that will follow after the screening.
But in the meantime, a sneak peak of the film is available here: MissRepresentation
Finally, Melinda says “we are especially delighted that the organisers have decided to donate any profits to grassroots activist group Collective Shout” . Having been involved in co-founding Collective Shout, a big thank you to Think Act Change for making a difference before the event even starts!