Today I watched a trailer for the movie Miss Representation and was deeply moved. The clip struck me in many ways and left me extremely anxious to see the full length film. Its focus is on the ways in which the media sends the message that a woman’s value is based on her physical appearance. The trailer features clips of interviews with several categories of women such as high school students, professional women, and actresses. It also shows news/magazine/art images displaying various types of demeaning messages. From the short clip, it seems that the film will be an eye-opener for most people; hopefully it will raise consciousness and movement toward change. However, this clip also served as a reminder to me of how deeply embedded beauty and appearance are in even the biggest of activists. One of the women interviewed in trailer is Jane Fonda. She is shown wearing an exorbitant amount of make up and is also a known consumer of plastic surgery. To me, this is symbolic of a woman’s ability to have knowledge and awareness but simultaneously contribute to the rigid beauty standards set by society and media.
How does this connect with fitness and living well, you ask? Let me try to explain. I truly believe that a woman’s perception of her own body begins at a very young age. The media messages at the focal point of this movie are the exact type of influence that molds a young girl’s self-image. Eventually that little girl grows into a young woman and then into an adult. By this time, she has seen/read/heard hundreds of thousands of reinforcing messages that she should look a certain way. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to eating disorders and depression for many women. Anorexia, bulimia, food addiction and exercise addiction are a few of the potential harmful outcomes. But even for those women who do not develop a diagnosable disorder, I believe that we are ALL at risk of stepping over the line into some sort of unhealthy behavior at one time or another. Whether its restricting the types of food we eat, amount of calories we consume, overdoing it with exercise in hopes to lose as much weight as possible, or getting into a funk because we don’t look like any of the models in the tabloids, every woman must realize the close proximity of destructive behaviour. We must be vigilant and remain aware of the motives behind our actions, checking in with ourselves and one another with regularity.
I am an enormous advocate for fitness, exercise, eating well, and being healthy; it is both my passion and my career. But I am all too aware of the blurry line between exercising to be fit, and exercising to be as skinny as possible. Equally so, I am aware of the different motives behind eating habits and what different potential outcomes people may seek. I try every day to make sure that all of my encouragement, motivation, and excitement for fitness and eating well is taken in a positive, healthy way. I do want to help my clients be the BEST they can be, and this means being strong, confident, and healthy. As a woman, I am always keeping a watchful eye out for my female friends, co-workers, clients, sister, mother, aunts, cousins, etc. to make sure they see themselves as wonderful, powerful, able beings who add up to FAR MORE than the value placed on them by the media and society.
I am curious to know your reaction to the clip. I know there are so many differing opinions, thoughts, and ideas on this subject matter and I’m eager to discuss. If you'd like to check out the extended clip, here it is: