Miss Representation: A Crisis Facing Our Daughters
“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
-Marian Wright Edelman
- 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies
- This number increases to 78% by age 17
- 65% of women and girls have an eating disorder
- 17% of teens engage in cutting and self-injurious behavior
- Globally in 2014 #1 leading cause of death in teenage girls 15-18yrs was suicide
We as moms want the best in the world for our daughters and, seeing that same world for the darkness it can hold, we also fear the things they will have to face and deal with as adult women. That core emotion was the driving force for Jennifer Siebel Newsom in creating Miss Representation, a documentary about the issues facing girls and women in the United States today. She herself had struggled with some of these demons in the form of eating disorders, sexual abuse, and a glaring lack of successful female role models. She wanted to explore how the media has perpetuated these issues in our culture and particularly in our girls, and what is being done to help our daughters feel empowered in today’s world where these confusing and double-edged images and personas are pushed by the media upon our young, malleable girls.
In our media-saturated world our children are exposed to an average of 10 hrs and 45 minutes of media a day. That’s nearly half of a day spent being bombarded with messages and images that will shape their views of the world and their views of themselves. These images often portray women as sexual objects with their worth calculated via their physical attributes alone.
The ads that our daughters see create impossible ideals of female beauty that can only be achieved with photo altering and technological modification. This impossible ideal has direct psychological connections to eating disorders and depression in girls and women. The APA has identified self-objectification as a national epidemic resulting in depression, lower GPAs, and lower self-esteem with the rate of depression among girls and women doubling between 2000 and 2010.
We can make a difference by creating, celebrating and living our own, healthy vision of what a woman is and can be; for our daughters to see what they can grow into, and for our sons to see what a healthy, strong, amazing woman is. We can all make empowering other women and girls a priority to make a positive difference in our world.
Miss Representation is a crucially important part of this new empowerment, using interviews with high school students and women leaders, in a variety of industries, sharing their concerns about this issue to bring to light the issues our daughters are facing every single day as well as actions we can take to make a difference. Parents, educators and anyone that wants to inform themselves about the issues facing our young girls and women today can rent the documentary from a variety of locations such as Amazon, Vimeo or YouTube. A curriculum can also be purchased from the official website to use in schools or youth centers to help empower our youth to see women as the strong intelligent beings they are.