The film had a personal start—Jennifer Siebel Newsom was pregnant with her first child, a girl, and was concerned over the society her child would be raised in. Yes, a lot has changed over the years, but at the same time, it's amazing how little it has changed.
- There is less diversity (in types of roles and occupations, etc.) in female leads in today's films than female film protagonists in the 50s. Even "strong" female action heros conform to the male definition of sexiness (you can't fight crime without a corset).
- The U.S. is 90th in the world in terms of women in national legislatures. Rwanda, Iraq and China all have more women in their legislatures than the U.S.
- The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth 18 or younger more than tripled from 1997 and 2007.
- Women in the public eye are more likely to be judged for their appearance and beauty than men. Media often jumps straight to how a female looks rather than their qualifications.
- Women are also often pitted against each other even when competition isn't there, creating the perception that we are working against each other, when in reality women are often each others' biggest supporters.
So what can we do? I came away from the screening with a few ideas to apply to my own life.
- Stop judging other women based on their looks. I am extremely guilty of falling into the trap of criticizing other womens looks in private, especially when they are on my television or in my magazine. Even though the things I say to myself or to my friends and spouse will likely never reach the ears of the individual, the attitude of judgement is toxic and is probably the thing I like least about myself (the quick rush to judgement). I also want to stop jumping to judgement of women who do opt for cosmetic procedures or do things to make themselves look or feel better (in their opinions).
- Support and encourage other women in their endeavors. I love watching other women succeed, and in fact these women are my role models, but I could be better about encouraging those in my own life and helping publicize those I see online. The disparity between the 51% of Americans who are women and the 17% of Congress that is female is huge, and though I don't have political aspirations myself, I hope that those of you who do are not afraid to throw your hat into the ring. I don't believe in voting for women because of their gender (I'm more of an issues person), but more women on the ballot means more choices and more chances for fair representation.
- Be an example by showing my satisfaction with the body and beauty I've been given. It is extremely heartwrenching for me to hear girls and women (including my friends) talk about their dissatisfaction with their physical traits, especially when I know they are beautiful. This dissatisfaction is so pervasive and accepted that I think a lot of women who are happy with their looks are ashamed to let others know they are happy with the way they look. It makes me even more aware of what I put on this blog, too, and while I have never espoused a certain body or beauty type, I'm reassessing any subliminal messages I might be sending and how to intentionally send a solidly positive message.
Check out the trailer:
Find a screening in your area here, or find out how to host one.
Have you seen Miss Representation? How do you feel about the role of women in the United States today? What else can we do to make the world better for girls and the future?