Leduc AB – On August 20th, regional parents and youths were treated to the global viewing of MissRepresentation, a documentary that was originally made available in October 2011: written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, this intense and sometimes shocking film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and soon after aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Promoted by City Life Church and its leader Pastor Monica Prescott, this movie night was attended by more than 150 people, and it was meant to support a local project directed at Junior High female students.
As described in its website www.misrepresentation.org, this 90-minute film uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see: it exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often negative portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have eating disorders.
The proceeds of this documentary’s viewing were generously matched by Mohammed and Shadia Fares, owners of Leduc Cinemas. Parents of three lovely daughters, this couple was, like most of the spectators, moved by the shocking reality exposed by the movie director: touching and provocative interviews with teenagers and politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria exposed startling facts and statistics that left the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.
The purpose of this documentary’s viewing in our city is to enlighten women (and men!) on this ‘tragic’ misrepresentation, and to ultimately generate funds that will help purchase a large number of copies of the book “Mirror Mirror Girl” by Diane Wilson, an American pastor and mother: for each ticket sold ($10), a book will be purchased. This book is along the same lines as the film “MissRepresentation”: it exposes the harsh reality that modern media create an image of the ‘ideal female’, causing stress and low self-esteem in young women on the threshold of adulthood, and reducing their chances at reaching their goals in life.
‘Mirror Mirror Girl’ is a valuable and complex exposé on the value of young women: Pastor Monica and the Shine Sisterhood, the dynamic women’s group at City Life Church hope to place this book in the hands of every junior high female student in this city. At the end of the film viewing, several people in the audience pulled out their cheque books to add to the amount raised for the purchase of the Mirror Mirror Girl book: as emotions ran high, this was also a touching moment of collective support.
After the viewing, this Pipestone Flyer writer had an opportunity to chat with a few moviegoers. Hailey Plitt, a grade 12 student and long-time Leduc Cinemas employee, shared that “if we all contribute and join this movement, we will help youth see themselves in a different light: the mentorship that Pastor Monica mentioned is valuable, so if each one of us mentored a younger woman, this would greatly help this project!” Her friend and co-worker Danielle Choquette was troubled by the reality of what some men in high positions have said about female celebrities and colleagues: she enjoyed how the film also highlighted men’s positive opinions on the role and power of women in society and the business world. She added that her friends and herself are fully aware of this serious topic, and occasionally discuss it among themselves. Both young ladies look forward to reading the book.
Joanne Delanoy, Danielle’s mother and a member of the City Life congregation, confirms that the lack of standards in the media angers her, and adds that this topic has been discussed with her household.
Chelsea Koopmans, a Leduc Junior High School Math and PhysEd teacher, also came to watch the documentary and shares that this film reinforces her belief that ‘ownership’ of a younger girl’s future through mentorship is a valuable contribution to offer: if more women assumed that particular responsibility, it would create a positive impact on our community. Not a TV watcher by choice, Mrs. Koopmans was shocked by the amount of sexuality and violence broadcasted nowadays and available to young, impressionable minds.
All in all, this film, “MissRepresentation”, was a bold step towards the enlightenment of a large group of adults and youths of our community, and the admirable project of purchasing and distributing the “Mirror Mirror Girl” book to Junior High Girls in our City is now underway, under the dynamic leadership of Pastor Monica and the Shine!Sisterhood at the City Life Church in Leduc. Donations towards this caring endeavor are still gratefully accepted, although Pastor Monica declined to officially ask for this added financial support. She might get it anyway!