Last night, MissRepresentation aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. It was just as inspiring and eye opening the second time around (I saw it first at an Arizona List screening). And the best news? IT'S AIRING ON OWN AGAIN TOMORROW AT 10AM! Eastern time that is, so 1PM for us west-coast kids. Check out the trailer!
If you didn't catch the screening last night, you MUST to see it tomorrow. It will change your life; it changed mine. Well, refocused my perspective anyway. Since I can remember, I have been acutely aware of the social phenomena discussed in the film. Whether that is a testament to my mother who raised me so well or my teachers who fully prepared me for the world we face I am not sure. I think it's a bit of both and I think my story is pretty rare. But I've also become aware of something else: I am not only an informed observer of these problems, I am also a victim. We all are.
So what is my 'Fix It Friday' solution? Well, I've taken some advice from the film; one of the many incredible commentators said "If we only remembered that every time we look in the mirror, a young girls is watching us" we might learn to have more love for ourselves (or something close to that). Since seeing the film, I've become a mentor to a young girl, I'm learning to love myself for all that I am and all that I am not and I am spreading the word throughout my community that we need to change and that change begins with us.
After seeing the film the first time around, I wrote a post that I never published. I think now is a good time to send it out into the world. So here goes nothing!
Who really makes a difference anyway?
This weekend, I went to Arizona List’s showing of MissRepresentation with commentary by Dr. Jane Kilborne at the Loft Theatre. The whole presentation was outstanding! If you missed it (or even if you went), I strongly recommend visiting the movie website, www.MissRepresentation.org.
I’m about to tell you how the words of Dr. Kilborne and Jennifer Newsom inspired me. Why not just skip my review and see the movie for yourself? I wouldn’t blame you for doing that; this is one film everyone should watch! But to quote an inspirational female writer, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, “I find greater value in what specific individuals tell me worked for them than in any other kind of argument—and that’s true even when we seem to have nothing in common.”
So, I’m a twenty-something college grad just starting my career and if we met in the supermarket because we both reached for the same ice cream pint, we might have nothing to say to each other, or we might be instant friends. Either way, I hope you find some value in the lessons great women have taught me.
In my short time on this earth, I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by strong, smart, powerful women who have guided me on my journey of growing up and developing my sense of self. These women have taught me to take pride in who I am no matter what and that if I work hard, I can change the world. I set my life’s mission around these powerful ideals: stay strong and fight for something I believe in, if only to make the world a little better for someone else.
Sitting in the packed arena of Tucson’s independent non-profit theatre, watching a film about how thin, sexy and beautiful women in today’s society are expected to be, I realized just how far I had strayed from my mission. I had lost my zeal, my hunger to do something great because I no longer though I could; I was complacent where I was. Why should I keep fighting to make a difference when it seems so unrealistic? I was hiding behind excuses like ‘I’m not smart enough’ and ‘people never notice the plain, average sized girl anyway’.
How had this happened? Why was I thinking of myself this way? Staring at image after image of women posing like sex kittens, I thought about what my own self-image had become. Every morning when I look in the mirror, I know I groan at my reflection. Every time I pick up food, I mentally scold myself and tell whoever is around some excuse about skipping breakfast, even if I’m only eating my lunch! I AM A VICTIM TOO! I’m a college educated, successful twenty-something, and even I’m not immune to all the sexual images of flawless women EVERYWHERE! I have been telling myself to give up because, well, ‘Who really makes a difference anyway?’
WE DO! WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Listening to the commentators of MissRepresentation reminded me of that. Each one of us can do SOMETHING. We can support each other: don’t let you friends call themselves fat, do judge the girl walking by at the coffee shop, tell your children, nieces, sisters ‘you are amazing’ and remind them every day. Be a mentor to a young girl. Everyone can do something, and yes, that includes me!
I had forgotten what the wise teachers in my life have taught me: stay true to yourself, be confident, never give up a fight if you believe in it. I believe with all my heart that the next generation of girls should not grow up thinking that their worth is determined by their beauty and sexuality. We are better than that. MissRepresentation was the wake-up call my complacent butt needed. Watch out world, I’m back in the fight!
Will you join me? Leave me a comment or join the MissRepresentation movement at www.MissRepresentation.org.