We think about what we put into our bodies, but what about what we put into our minds. How do all the images, the information, the environment around us affect how we view the world and how we view ourselves and what does it mean for the future of our children? Now that I am a mother, I am even more concerned about our new media reality. I love media, that is why I went into television, but with so many options to choose from TV, Cable, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. it can be overwhelming and the quality gets diluted.
In one week American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 3 hours watching movies, 4 hours reading magazines, 10 hours online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.
Media plays a major role in our lives and gives us unlimited access to information, but it can also bombard us with negative images.
Last week I saw Miss Representation-a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Click to take a look at the trailer.
The film explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. Newsom tackles the topic using her own personal narrative (the birth of her daughter, her teenage struggles with family loss, eating disorders and sexual abuse) as a starting point to explore the bigger issue. The story unfolds with interviews with high-profile women in news, entertainment, business and politics and the use of statistics on women in media. But the film doesn’t just leave you with the problems it also highlight young activists making a difference and makes a call to action.
It’s definitely an eye opening look at the media, but after the screening it made me take a deeper look at myself and the example I set for my children. Do we ourselves place too much emphasis on the way we look? I realize with with my daughter I say good morning beautiful, but I don’t think I really say that to my son. Hey I like feeling beautiful and looking good, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, as long as we also place importance on other values as well. I probably won’t stop saying things like that to my daughter, but I will remember to continue to nurture all sides of her. Her intellect, her ability to speak her mind and work hard. Empowering and educating each other starts at home and it starts early, not just with our daughters, but with our sons.
It also reinforces that we need to share our voices to combat the stereotypes. You can’t be what you can’t see, but you also can’t write what you don’t know. Whether you are a woman, a man, minority or what ever group you identify with we need to create our own stories and share them. I have taken the pledge to be the change I want to see. If you would like more information on where you see the film or how you can get involved. Go to Miss Representation.org.