Miss Representation

65 percent of American women and girls report disordered eating behaviors.

This is the world we live in. It is so broken that women are degraded and conditioned to hate themselves and want to change themselves. And it’s not just women – it’s young girls.
In the media, women are portrayed in negative manners.

Consumer industries are trying to make attention-grabbing ads by containing shocking images of women in submissive roles, women as sexual objects, and women as just objects to men in general. In film and on TV, women are also seen as sex objects. They are written in roles where they may appear to be protagonists, but their story line revolves around a man.

Even in the news, women are objectified and degraded. When talking about powerful women in politics, the media treats them like jokes, referring to them as “catty” and only commenting on their appearances. A political woman is never talked about for her qualifications and advancements in legislations.

Then there’s the question of how we put an end to this. How do we retrain our entire society to respect and value women as whole persons? Is it possible? My idealist self says yes; we can hope to eliminate the advertisements featuring immodest women and teach young boys and girls to grow up to be educated, self- and other-respecting members of society. Our society can be one in which individuals are not restricted to corrupted gender roles as a sexual object or an inconsiderate pig. Women can take positions of power and be looked up to because they are wise and make good decisions; the possibility of them having plastic surgery will no longer be the main debate surrounding their career. Our society will no longer have middle school-aged girls not eating for three days because their peers are telling them their fat and worthless. Women and girls will be valued.

My realist self, on the other hand, says differently. Can we really hope to rewrite hundreds, even thousands, of years of history in which women have been treated as less and taken advantage of? It seems a bit adventurous to me. Especially as I sit in an auditorium at my Christian university, watching a documentary on the misrepresentation of women in media and how that has affected our world and just two rows behind me sits two young men (attending a Christian university, may I reiterate) chuckling and making jokes at every scantily dressed female shown. These figures are being shown to illustrate points that these young men are proving simultaneously in this situation. My ears hear these reactions, my heart sinks, and my head (after simmering down from anger) says, “NO WAY.” No way can we aspire to successfully re-shape minds of the whole nation, a nation of “teenage boys”, as one woman in the documentary put it.

Going about such a goal would involve transforming everyday parts of life, most particularly, advertisements.
If change were to occur, it would have to reach children at a young age. Young girls, and boys as well, need to be exposed to the right kind of female empowerment. They need to see strong women in powerful position. When they see that, they will aspire to it and be the change in our society. As Marie Wilson, the Founding President of The White House Project put it, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Interested in seeing more about this issue?
Check out missrepresentation.org

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