Pretty Powerful

Film holds a mirror up to the media's misogyny.

May/June 2011

Reading time min

Pretty Powerful

Photo: Svetlana Cvetko

The United States ranks 90th in the world in terms of women in national government. A mere 3 percent of CEO suites at Fortune 500 companies are occupied by women. Ditto for clout positions in the mainstream media. As troubling as these disparities are, the aspect of gender inequality that saddens actress and filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom most is people's passive reaction to it. "We're all so busy that sometimes we just accept the status quo and decide that it's too hard of a fight to fight."

In 2008 Newsom, '96, MBA '01, decided to walk the talk—in stilettos, no less. Her documentary Miss Representation premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January. The 90-minute film explores how the barrage of stereotyped and sexualized media portrayals sabotages young women's self-esteem. It includes interviews with teenage girls as well as influential figures in politics, business and the media including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, '55, Condoleezza Rice, Google's Marissa Mayer, '97, MS '99, and television host Rachel Maddow, '94.

Newsom, who gave birth to her first child in September 2009, says her efforts are primarily dedicated to the girls of her daughter's generation. She wants to replace the current lineup of life-sized Barbie role models with women whose self-worth is based on more than just their physical appearance. A condensed version of the film with curricula for K-12 was released in May. The final version will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network in the fall.

You May Also Like

© Stanford University. Stanford, California 94305.