Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Women and media

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook earlier today, and I'm actually really looking forward to the film now. It looks like another take on the "women are hypersexualized in media, the portrayal of women is unrealistic, etc." topic that has been around for ages. But they also interview several women in powerful roles. I think that part will be the most interesting, actually.

Women hold only 3% of high-ranking positions in the media and entertainment industries, yet they are 51% of the US population. An equal number of male and female 7-year-olds aspire to be president, and yet only 17% of Congress is female.

I attended a seminar on campus last semester on women and body image. It focused on portrayals of the female body in media, and how society is bombarded by images of something unrealistic and made to think it is the norm. Even if people don't think they are affected, many men idealize the body type they see in magazines, and most women aspire to look like that. A size 4 is no longer modeling material. Celebrities can afford to maintain that body type because they are paid to. Normal women starve themselves, or purge, or exercise for several hours a day, just to achieve what they have been told is ideal.

This is a really sensitive subject for me as well. Not only am I really struggling with my weight and the way I look right now, but I have been in recovery from an eating / compulsive exercise disorder for several years now. Some days, I still struggle. Particularly when I first came home from Europe, I kept food journals so I could keep myself accountable and know I was not eating too little and exercising too much. I was so unhappy with the way I looked (and still am some days) that I found myself skipping meals without even thinking about it.

Anyway. Media and body perception. Even men are affected. The woman who presented on campus in March mentioned something her husband had said offhandedly unintentionally idealizing the "skinny mini" image. And it reminds me of February of this year. I was the thinnest I've ever been - sub 120. I haven't seen that number on the scale since I was 13, probably. (I was 127 at my thinnest in high school, at age 14.) I had seen an awesome deal on designer skinny jeans. I usually wear a 26, and these were a 25. They were also about 80% off, so I figured I'd buy them, try them, and if they didn't fit, I could still probably sell them and make a profit.

I'd lost weight since I bought them, so I figured I'd try them on and see how they fit. I think I was getting ready for date night, because Kyle was over. Well they didn't fit quite as well as I had hoped. Kyle thought it would be funny to try to pull them up as far as they would go so I could button them. It took him lifting me up off the floor by my belt loops, but I finally got 'em on and comfy. They still were obviously a little small, though, and not super flattering. Kyle made a comment about how fat I was, because I had love-handles. Let's be clear - I was far from a heifer. You could see my hip bones and ribs. At the time, I was wearing a size 0 pants. I shouldn't have been fat by anyone's standards. (I can't actually say that the media influenced Kyle's perception of my weight. It was most likely him just being an ass. Still, it boggles my mind that people actually think that way, and would vocalize thoughts like that.)

All that to say, Miss Representation. No idea when it's coming out, but check out the trailer. I think it looks pretty good.

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