I just got back from a showing of Miss Representation, the documentary I talked about in last year's post, and my mind has been overflowing since about halfway through the film, wondering what exactly I was going to say about it. I've been looking forward to seeing the documentary ever since I heard about it last year -- and it did not disappoint. In fact, I think that every woman should watch it. I have never come away from a film more empowered and more committed to making changes in my life and in the world.
I will warn you: There were quite a few disturbing images in the documentary of the hyper-sexualized women throughout the media, and some of the people interviewed dropped the F-bomb. But this documentary is too important not to miss. It hit on everything that I have been thinking about for months: the dumbing down of men in the media, the rampant sexualization and glamorization of high school girls (Glee, anyone?) and society's celebration of women who are sexy instead of smart. The whole time I was watching it, I thought, I wish I had made this film.
I won't go into all of it, because I really want each of you to watch this documentary, but here are a few of my takeaways:
- I am going to teach my daughters that being smart is more important than being beautiful. I want them to believe they can become president if they want to, that they can make a difference in the world and that they can pursue any career (wholesome, of course) they want to. Not that I'm not going to teach them to be pretty and make the most of their appearance. I wish my mom would have shown me how to pluck my eyebrows and put on makeup, because that's something I didn't learn to do until college roommates took pity on me. One of the things I hate most about the feminism movement is that some women who get really into it chop off their hair and make absolutely no effort to improve their appearance. I don't believe you should spend hours every morning doing your hair and makeup, but walking out the door with no thought about what you look like is just as bad. I want to teach my daughters that they can be beautiful and intelligent. Taking pride in yourself is SO important!
- I am going to stop being so critical of myself. I am never going to have the perfect body (really, does ANYONE have the perfect body? Who decides that anyway?), and let's face it -- it'll only go downhill when I have kids and get older. I should just be grateful that all of the parts work and that it is beautiful in its own unique ways. When I look in the mirror, I'm going to stop thinking about all the things that could be better and focus on the parts that I love. I can certainly do better about getting in shape and keeping my body healthy, but I'm going to focus on those aspects -- not about losing weight or trying to achieve a size or shape I want.
- I am going to stop being critical of other women. One of my friends in high school once pointed out that women don't dress to impress men; they really dress to impress other women. And it is true. Men are much less critical of women's clothes and figures than women are. I don't know why we feel such a pressure to compete with each other! We feel like if we point out that Jane has put on a lot of weight or Kate has gone completely gray that we'll feel better about ourselves -- but really, we just keep feeling more depressed because then we compare our bodies to women who are thinner or more beautiful than we are (or so it seems). Thoughts like this (and things we actually say behind people's backs) are so hurtful! I think I would be much happier if I didn't compare myself to other people and focused instead on making my own body healthy.
- I am going to stop watching movies and TV shows that objectify women. I realize that this one is kind of unrealistic, because scantily clad women are everywhere. But while I was watching Miss Representation, one clip from a movie really stood out in my mind (and then they showed the clip, which made me feel cool). It was the scene from Transformers where Megan Fox is wearing a tiny shirt and Daisy Dukes and leaning over the hood of the Camaro. Ever since I saw that part in the movie, it bothered me. How would you ever be comfortable shooting a scene that blatantly sexual? What kind of message does that send to men (and the thousands of boys and girls who saw that movie with their parents)? I am going to be more aware of what I'm watching and how it affects me.
Sorry for the giant post, but you can see how much thought that documentary generated. I really needed to see it tonight and remind myself that I am a child of God, that I can make a difference and that I'm beautiful the way I am. I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you've seen Miss Representation, let me know what you think!