VAIL - Does the way in which the U.S. media portrays women really have an effect on how we view women and their role in American society?
The answer may surprise you, as the Vail Valley Foundation's Youth Foundation presents the Rocky Mountain premier of the acclaimed documentary "Miss Representation" today at 6:30 p.m. at Beaver Creek's Vilar Performing Arts Center. The special screening is a benefit for the VVF's Youth Foundation's Girl PowHER program.
Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under representation of women in positions of power and influence in this country. 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.
"I'm a firm believer in 'If you can't see it, you can't be it,'" said Newsom, arguing that more balanced public images of women would teach young girls that they can aspire to positions of power. "I started to question what the media was communicating to young people. I couldn't imagine having a daughter in a culture that demeaned, objectified and sexualized women."
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that 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.
"Our physical perception is a powerful force that impacts self-confidence, particularly for teens," said Susie Davis, vice president of education for the Vail Valley Foundation. "We witness a multitude of traits beyond physical characteristics in our Girl PowHER participants that give us a fuller sense of their potential. By observing their intelligence, personal motivation, work ethic, genuine kindness, generosity, sense of humor and friendships, we witness what makes them uniquely beautiful."
The film features stories from teenage girls and interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem.
The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has since aired on Oprah Winfrey's television network. Newsom launched MissRepresentation.org, a call-to-action campaign that gives women and girls the tools to realize their full potential.
A 30-minute panel discussion following the film will explore how to best address women's issues in our own lives and empower the next generation of young women to reach their highest potential. Panelists include Colorado residents Deb Luginbuhl, Leticia Harrison, Blair Young, Tina Fleishman and Lisa Pease.
General-admission tickets for the Colorado premier of "Miss Representation" are $25 at the door. A special VIP ticket is also available for $45, which provides reserved seating and a reception in the Vilar Center's May Gallery.
Tickets for "Miss Representation" are available online at vilarpac.org, by phone at 888-920-ARTS or in person at the Vilar Center box office in Beaver Creek or the Marketplace box office in Vail Village.