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Miss-Representation

The movie we watched in class today changed my whole perspective of the media. I always knew that the media influenced the way we perceived ourselves and others, but I had not realized just how dramatically it was misrepresenting women, and leading us down a dangerous path of self-esteem issues, self-objectification and putting all of our self-worth in our appearances rather than our qualities and what we actually are.

After class, I was watching an episode of 90210, and I genuinely could not get through the episode without thinking to myself, WHY? Why was this character basing her happiness on whether or not this other guy would accept her? Why was she wearing such a skimpy outfit? and why did the producers think it would be a great idea that the skimpy outfit would be the reason she won this guy over?  It all suddenly felt so unfair, I felt like I was being lied to my whole life, every movie, every episode, every music video; it all has formed this schema of women and how were supposed to be and act and live in my mind that is completely distorted.

I remember my freshman year here, I was sitting with a couple of friends and we were discussing the “ideal man” and “ideal woman”. I remember the men started off by listing all these physical attributes saying things like “I dont like big boobs…or small boobs really, they have to be moderately sized” and “I have a type, I’d never really date anyone above a size 6”. I remember being appalled at that comment, and asking why, and his defense was “It’s just my type”. But I seemed to easily accept that as an answer, almost as if I understood where he was coming from. When the girls chimed in to discuss their “ideal man” I remember listing qualities like “he has to make me laugh” and hearing “I love smart guys” and maybe the occasional “I have a thing for green eyes” or “he has to be taller than me”. But the dynamic and substance of this conversation was completely different compared to the men’s “ideal woman”- we were focused on qualities and adding the physical attributes as an extra plus, but when judging women, it was the complete opposite. The saddest thing about this whole conversation was not that they said it, but we all agreed and accepted it. As if it was completely ok for someone to judge someone based on their looks and rationalize it by saying “it’s their type”. As if boob size really did matter, and that it was rational for someone to label someone as their “ideal woman” because of their boob size.

I wish I could go back to that day so I could argue with everyone about how irrational this conversation was, because in truth, no one is actually going to fit our ideals. Because we’ve been exposed to the media so much and our thoughts are skewed. We think we’re going to find a man to sweep us off our feet,  charmingly save us from our daily troubles and maybe even have a perfect six pack.  These guys think they’re going to find this perfectly hot girl, who’s a size 4 with perfect boobs, and is somehow going to stay that hot for her whole life, because they expect nothing less. It’s ridiculous and honestly a little depressing, Hopefully movies like Miss-Representation will gain more popularity, and maybe open peoples eyes to just how manipulative media is and maybe change their perspective back to how it’s supposed to be.


5 Comments

  1. jsegrist says:

    I like that you mention that most men think their ideal woman will look that way her whole life. I see so many commercials for wrinkle cream and things that will make you look younger and it is mostly directed towards women. Like they aren’t supposed to get old and they should look like the ideal for their entire life, which is so unrealistic.

    • pammiano says:

      Better yet, the commericals for wrinkle creams where the woman using the cream looks like she is 20. Oh right, she probably is. I have to shake my head at that – as a consumer of anything, I would like to see proof – putting a cream on someone who does not have wrinkles yet does not mean anything to me.

      I see nothing wrong with a woman making a personal decision to look at certain way, wear makeup, or dress in a particular style, but we women – as a group – need to stop taking the mandates of society or ad agencies. Collectively, we have a lot of financial power.

  2. kmsweet says:

    I’ve definitely noticed that same thing. When you ask a man what they’re looking for in a woman, they almost always start talking about what they want her to look like, whereas women usually start by listing what qualities they want in a man. It really doesn’t make sense to be looking for physical attributes in a person, because that really doesn’t dictate someone’s personality at all. And you’re right, how a woman looks isn’t going to stay that way forever.

  3. trburt2013 says:

    I am a women in my early 40’s. I can recall watching episodes of Leave it to Beaver, and The Brady Bunch. I just looked at these for entertainment. Not realizing that this is what the media’s standard of what a women was. Cleaning the house,shopping, caring for the family. What is so sad is that the same standards still apply today. We must began to teach young ladies that they are not to measure themselves to the standards of the media because they will never be able to come up to their mark without making changes to their bodies. By then their minds have already been damaged.

    • meerkat93 says:

      I watched The Brady Bunch with my mom as a kid and when I saw it again a few months ago it honestly made me wonder what Mrs. Brady DOES all day! Alice does all her work for her, including cleaning the house. Mrs. Brady doesn’t have a career and her kids are all in school for most of the show. Yet she is totally happy and fulfilled in every episode, not bored. Hm. It may be somewhat inconsequential, but it points to the larger truth within the show that ideally women do not need to work or have their own life, activities, or goals outside of their role as a wife and mother.

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