How Watching Miss Representation Changed My Role As a Woman to be a Leader and an Activist

FemWedU by Samee Callahan Feminist Wednesday University Ambassador

Within the first three minutes of watching Miss Representation, I knew I was going to leave the movie with a completely different mindset. It was the most productive 90 minutes of movie watching that I have ever done. It impacted me in a zillion and five different ways.

To me, one of the hardest hitting parts of the film was its commentary on the negative effects that the media has had on US women and girls. Some of the statistics from the film include: Sixty-five percent of US women and girls report disordered eating behaviors. Depression in women has doubled since 1970. The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth under age 19 has more than tripled from 1997 to 2007. These are just a few of many more horrible realities the film sheds light on. You can imagine how discouraging it feels to see that the cards are clearly stacked up against women in the US.

Despite these discouraging statistics, the film in itself encouraged me to be a leader not only for myself, but to inspire other women to follow suit. Women in American culture are suffering both physically and mentally. Every moment of every day, women are put under pressure to be this idealized version of themselves. However, no matter how intelligent, witty, or interesting a woman may be, society won’t pay attention unless she’s attractive. Try as they might, real women in American culture will never be enough for society.

To me, advertising is bullshit. However, I study advertising. So that tends to pose a problem. Miss Representation presented various ads that illustrate women being objectified and sexualized, their bodies and faces being photoshopped to the point of becoming unrealistic. Honestly, it’s all so dehumanizing! A lot of advertising is based off of making people feel insecure. For men, it’s about making them feel anxious about power and status. For women, its beauty.

In order for advertising to change, the people behind it need to change their strategies. However, it’s not fair to blame it all on the advertisers because ads directly reflect society. Therefore, society is to be blamed as well.

As I finish my degree in advertising I fear that it will be quite difficult to find an agency that agrees with this strategy change. I know that I want to be able to transform our society’s ethos with my advertising and I have hope that I won’t be alone in this endeavor.

Miss Representation has made me see that my role as a woman in this society is to be a leader and an activist. So few women know how or why they are being treated so unfairly. I feel that if I continue to spread this knowledge that I can show other women that they deserve so much more. I will continue to work hard and, one day, be able to change society’s view on women with my advertising. As a woman in American society I feel as though it is my duty, due in part to Miss Representation, not to let society control me, but to be my own person and encourage other women to do the same.

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