I walked into the dimly lit auditorium, hearing the chatter of the audience as I found my seat among the other Strong Women, Strong Girls mentors of Simmons College. Women and men of all ages crowded into the auditorium to watch the Simmons College screening of the award-winning documentary, Miss Representation. Walking into the auditorium, I knew very little about what the documentary was about. When I walked out of the auditorium, I was changed for the better.
The purpose of Miss Representation is to reveal how the media affects the way America’s women, girls, men, and boys perceive beauty, sexuality, values, and self-worth. Miss Representation talks specifically about how the way women are represented in the media affects the health of and opportunities for women and girls. What particularly struck me was the section about how unrealistic images of beauty in the media affect young girls, specifically. In film, television, and magazines, the women we see represented are most often size zeroes, with perfect skin and flawless bodies.
Frequently, photographs of models for print advertisements are altered to make them look even thinner. These misleading images truly impact girls’ body image. Many girls believe that they must fulfill the stereotypes of being extremely skinny and beautiful to be happy. An alarming number of girls say that they are unhappy with the way their body looks because they do not resemble these models. It is unrealistic for girls to aspire to the media’s ideals, which are produced in Photoshop. Miss Representation is trying to teach America that the media needs to change.
Girls are so consumed with body image that it is ruining their ambitions to make change in their society. As a young girl, my parents always told me that I was beautiful, and the negative body image projected by the media didn’t seem as severe as it does now. The screening of Miss Representation opened my eyes to the extremes the media has reached. The young girls of America need positive reinforcement to realize how beautiful they are inside and out, no matter what the media is telling them. While we may not immediately be able to change what we see at the movies, on television, or in advertisements, we can be positive forces in each other’s lives. Tell the girls in your life that they are beautiful, and they do not need to change!