Miss Representation: Women in the Media
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Politics and Activism

Miss Representation: Women in the Media

A documentary that focuses on women in the media, Miss Representation opens your eyes to the world around you.

Miss Representation: Women in the Media

We’ve all seen it: the commercials with the hot girls in bikinis. She has the perfect body and the perfect face. Girls want to be her and men want to be with her. Sure, the face may change from one advertisement to another, but one thing is constant: a half naked girl trying to sell something to someone. People wonder why one in four children by the age of seven have tried some form of a diet.

It is no secret that today’s media are not kind to women who don’t fit the perfect, although unattainable, idea of what a woman should be. Women seemingly are only valued for their looks, not what is in their heads. Look at almost any tabloid on the newsstands right now and you will see somewhere an article talking about the weight of a female celebrity. This obsession America has with beauty has tainted the minds of our children and led to a serious body image crisis. According to a study done by Common Sense Media in January of this year, 93% of girls and young women engage in conversations about their appearance and need for weight loss. The study also suggested that nearly half of girls aged 13 to 17 wishes that they were as skinny as the models in fashion magazines and those models served as a goal body type.

The flaunting of women’s bodies doesn’t just happen in magazines or entertainment outlets. Fox News, for example, has long been castigated for its overt sexualization of its female news anchors. Fox is not the only company that engages in this practice of sexualization—it happens across all news outlets. Katie Couric, one of the most respected female journalists of our time, even noted that when she started out on the Today Show she felt that her clothing was too revealing. Working her way up, Couric became the CBS Evening News anchor in 2006. During her tenure, which lasted until 2011, she often faced criticism for her outfits and not for her reporting. The practice of focusing on women’s outfits or discrediting her simply for the fact that she is not a man is a common occurrence.

This is, perhaps, most evident when women run for office. From Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin, women face criticism for issues that most people would never approach a male candidate about. Sarah Palin was over sexualized in the media, often cast as the ditzy politician that somehow made it to Washington. Hillary, however, was cast as the cold and bitter wife. Her bid for the presidency, both in 2008 and today, has continued to fight off questions of her legitimacy as a candidate. Despite the fact that she served as Senator of New York and Secretary of State, the media continues to question where she would be without her husband, former President Bill Clinton. A graduate of Yale Law School, Clinton is more than capable to hold her own in an election. Yet, the media refuses to accept that Clinton has made herself a name outside of her husband’s presidency.

In the documentary Miss Representation, the role of women in the media is scrutinized and shown for what it truly is. An expose on the way women are presented to the world, this movie does more than just present facts—it opens your eyes to the male dominated narrative we’ve been consuming as the truth for the last fifty years. A source of inspiration for this writer, Miss Representation deserves attention and respect from the world.

Activist Marian Edleman once said “you can’t be what you can’t see.” Today, young girls are just starting to see all that they can be. While we as a society have made great strides in elevating the role and status of women, we still have a long way to go. Until women are treated as equals in the workplace and in the world at large, we can not be content with the attitude of our society. When women are no longer treated as mere sexual objects, solely on screen for the purpose of arousing the male viewer aged 18-49, we will start to move towards a brighter future. Women deserve to be portrayed in the media as they truly are. Equality is not just some lofty idea we strive towards, it is an attainable state that starts with our demanding change in the things we read and watch on a daily basis.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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