HC Review: Miss Representation

Kicking off at the Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World Festival was the thought-provoking and extremely significant film from Jennifer Siebel Newsom Miss Representation. With the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Dr. Jackson Katz, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, and Gloria Steinem, this film was bound to get attention, and so it did when Oprah bought the broadcasting rights to it!

I walked into the hall not knowing what to expect, and was thrilled to see women of all backgrounds, races and ideas flocking to the sold out event. I watched as the crowds gasped and laughed with glee at some of the comments, and cringed and empathized along with the audience as we heard the struggles of some of the world’s most powerful women. In a world where we are constantly reminded that we should aspire to be nothing, it was daunting to imagine that some of the world’s greatest female powers still didn’t have it easy.

The film’s motto “You can’t be what you can’t see” is an important one. The movie shows how women are constantly put down when it comes to positions of power. It shows how the media fixates on what a woman should look like, rather than the kind of person she should be. It chronicles the desperate struggle of young women in their quest to achieve an idealized concept of beauty, and how they are discouraged from aspiring to be more than a pretty face and body.

I watched Jean Kilbourne’s lectures when I was in my freshman year of college, and seeing her in this film confirmed that it would be something I’d enjoy. Women are constantly told that what matters most is what they look like- we are literally told to aspire to have a size zero body type; to become a zero.  The women in positions of power are constantly caricatured in the media, with Hillary Clinton being an uptight b**ch and Sarah Palin being a ditzy, incompetent princess. Men are allowed the quality of assertiveness- it’s what makes them “leaders.” But women who are assertive are considered nags and killjoys.

The world has changed drastically since the Suffrage movement and the beginning of women’s lib, but it shows us that as we take 2 steps ahead, we often backtrack 10 steps. The USA is the 90th in the world for women in national legislature, and women only hold 3% of influential positions in mainstream media.65% of women go through eating disorders. It’s a toxic world, and Miss Representation gives us the wakeup call we need. We need to change the world. We need to be the change we want to see. Standing idly by and being apathetic cannot be an option anymore. This film is a beacon of strength and hope- we need to spread it around and share it!

Go to the Women of the World Festival, there will be plenty more events that you can be a part of. HC Westminster will be covering this event, so watch this space for more WOW updates! Also, visit missrepresentation.org

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