"You can't be what you can't see."
- Marian Wright Edelman
Which is why Jennifer Siebel Newsom made MissRepresentation (which I blogged about recently). She is showing us what we CAN be -- a country that doesn't use the media to hold women and girls back, but instead celebrates each person's abilities and contributions.
In the documentary, she talks about growing up with the pressure to be perfect, mostly self-inflicted after the death of her sister. "I have to be two daughters." She excelled at everything -- sports, school -- and went on to a successful college career. In her attempt to be perfect, she developed a severe eating disorder, which she struggled to overcome.
She also discusses how, when she went to Hollywood to pursue an acting career, she was told she was already too old at 28, and too smart. Shocking, I know!
It wasn't until she became pregnant with her daughter (Montana, born September 18, 2009), that she really became active in the fight against media portrayals of women and girls, and was inspired to make MissRepresentation.
If you haven't seen the documentary, I urge you to try and find a showing in your area, or keep an eye on the OWN schedule for a rebroadcast. It is upsetting and disturbing, true, but it is also empowering.
In the meantime, you can watch her TED interviews. I'm thankful that she's the Second Lady of California. I hope that, in that role, she can bring more attention to the problem, and find more solutions.