“Mom, when I grow up I want to look like Cinderella.”
Look like Cinderella, not be like her. At the age of 5 I had already fallen into the societal flaw of looking at females for just their beauty.
I have grown up in an era where female equality is at the back of peoples’ minds. Yes, there are movements such as the #MeToo movement and constant protests for more equal pay, but these problems seem so inconsequential when you look at where women have been.
Women have come so far in terms or equality: voting, holding office, being executives attending school, etc. All these accomplishments overshadow the ever-present problems in today’s society, the main one being the negative social influences on females.
I grew up with influences coming from movies. I watched “The Little Mermaid,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Snow White” and more. My role models were these princesses who had perfect skin, hair and bodies. Not only that, these characters only existed to be saved by a man.
As I got older I continued to indulge in movies completely unaware of the subconscious effects they were having on me. Movies like “High School Musical” told me that the most important thing to people is how successful their men’s sports team is and that if I show my intelligence I will be called a nerd.
I learned through superhero movies that if I wanted to save the world I needed to do it wearing skin tight clothing and with a team of men. It was never a conscious decision to dress the way I did, talk the way I did and obsess about my weight and skin the way I did as a child. All these decisions came from the unnoticed virus subconsciously telling me I had to fit the social constructs I saw in movies.
Under-representation, stereotypical roles, equalization and unattainable body standards are what I grew up watching and what is still occurring in the film industry. These influences do not help empower young girls or women, it discourages them and confines them into small boxes. A young woman is far more likely to feel empowered and independent watching movies with strong female leads instead of watching female characters who are completely reliant upon men.
Our society is raised and educated by pop culture and the movie industry is one of the largest sources of entertainment in the world. Films embody and convey the values and beliefs of cultures and almost everyone has seen at least one film in their life. Movies subconsciously tell us what society should look like, resulting in movies shaping peoples’ personalities and realities. These subconscious influences are responsible for prompting stereotypes in society and, with fewer women taking part in the creation of films, viewers are seeing skewed images of women.
Many may argue that females have made a positive impact in the film industry and female representation has improved in recent years. This is true for some movies. “Wonder Woman,” which starred a strong female superhero and was directed by Patty Jenkins, was the No. 1 grossing film in 2017. “Lady Bird,” which also came out in 2017, starred Saoirse Ronan and was directed by Greta Gerwig, who was nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.
Nonetheless, the film industry remains a barren wasteland for female roles and directors.
A study done at USC found that there are seven times more male screen writers, 12 times more male directors and three times more male producers. USA Today stated that only 7 percent of 2016’s top-grossing films were directed by women. There have also only been five women ever nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards and only Kathryn Bigelow, director of “The Hurt Locker,” has won it.
These facts discourage many women from going into the film industry which results in large influential films almost always being directed by men. This means that female stories, personalities, and worth are being determined by men, giving society wrong ideas about women. People are influenced by films and are being convinced that women can only fall into a few small categories of worth.
Films need to hire more females behind the scenes to finally break the stereotypes. There need to be more strong-willed females who aren’t waiting around for a boy to save them on the big screen. Young girls and boys need to see that women are strong and can do anything they set their minds to. This will encourage females to go after their dreams and tell males that women are their equal.
I do not want children to grow up with the influences I did. It’s time for a revolution of individualism and equal representation.
Courtney Smith is a freshman.