If you have read our 2010 published book, Just GREEN It!, then you are familiar with our advice on making the greenest choices when it comes to everyday purchases – including televisions. Our ‘Green It! or Skip It!’ approach includes suggestions such as opting for an LCD over a plasma television because the smaller LCD screen models use less energy and contain fewer hazardous chemicals. Additionally, PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenylethers); flame retardant chemicals used as fire retardants in the plastics of TVs can accumulate in people and ultimately disrupt hormone systems and even brain development. Because of exposure to PBDE’s, cadmium and lead, we advise the proper recycling of televisions versus disposing of them in the trash. But, beyond energy efficiency and toxic waste, lies an even deeper level of toxicity than at first glance meets the eye. What I am referring to is the negative content emanating from your beloved flat screen.
‘We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off…’ Steve Jobs.
A friend recently introduced me to a new documentary called Miss Representation which exposes how today’s ‘American youth are being sold the concept that women and girls’ value lies in their youth, beauty and sexuality.’ I was intrigued. This has always been something that spoke to the core of who I am. As a child of the 80’s, my role models were Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie and Marie Osmond from the Donny & Marie show. While I was ‘a little bit country,’ today’s youth are kissing girls and liking it. Or, at least their heterosexual role models are. Whether you are homosexual or heterosexual is irrelevant, the point is that we are getting messages force-fed to us against our will that are influencing today’s youth and dis-empowering young girls especially. But, whose fault is this and where did it begin? In a prior post, I cover the concept of the Boiling Frog Syndrome; the premise is that if you place a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. However, it you place a frog in cold water and gradually heat the water, the frog will fail to perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. In other words, this is the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually. Are we gradually being forced to lower our morals and accept the exploitation of youth, the over-sexualization, and the demoralization of women? If you don’t think so, ask yourself if your own shock value has diminished or if you are becoming desensitized to these sexually explicit images sold to us through glossy magazine ads, reality shows, high adrenaline movies and gossip-fueled weeklies. Don’t think you or your children are being influenced by the messages of the media? Think again.
Still not convinced? Then heed the words of Edwin L. Artzt who said,
‘No company that markets products or services to the consumer can remain a leader in its field without a deep-seated commitment to advertising.” Or, those of past CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner who said, ‘We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. We are here to make money.’
So, I watched the movie directed by Jennifer Seibel Newsom and was shocked, enraged and inspired all at the same time. The film ‘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 disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.’
According to Miss Representation, ‘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 disordered eating behaviors.’
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker
Disturbing statistics indeed. Instead of our young leaders focusing on plastic surgery, dieting and boyfriends at alarmingly young ages, we need to empower these women to live to their fullest potential; to be valued for talents and abilities and to contribute to the world in a positive manner. The good news is that we can all help. If we refuse to purchase products from companies who use sex to sell; refuse to subscribe to shows portraying women as sex objects or pit women against each other, they will change. Continuing to support them is another story and will lead them to find more and more shocking ways to get our attention. First, take the pledge. I had already cancelled the E! network and vowed never to purchase another tabloid again. After I took the pledge, I received some additional suggested actions. I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you here:
- Remember your actions influence others. Mothers, aunts and loved ones- don’t downgrade or judge yourself by your looks. Fathers, uncles and loved ones—treat women around you with respect. Remember children in your life are watching and learning from you.
- Use your consumer power. Stop buying tabloid magazines and watching shows that degrade women. Go see movies that are written and directed by women (especially on opening weekend to boost the box office ratings). Avoid products that resort to sexism in their advertising.
- Mentor others! It’s as easy as taking a young woman to lunch. Start by having open and honest conversations with a young person in your life.
This documentary is not political; it’s moral as it depicts real life stories from teenage girls and raw interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem and more.
If you missed the first airing on Oprah’s fantastic new network, the OWN network, don’t worry because it is re-airing on November 12th at 11:00a.m. ET.
Remember, as Marie Wilson, president and founder of The White House Project states,
‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’
You are not a Barbie girl living in a Barbie world. You are not plastic. You are fantastic…just the way you are!