Young women feel the need to look and act a certain way based on the media, to the point where it has become the norm to meet a certain “standard,” rather than feel beautiful at any size of their choosing.
Award-winning director and producer, Darryl Roberts, of the documentary films “America the Beautiful”, shared his third film in the series in Edwards Auditorium this past Tuesday night. For the third film, titled “America the Beautiful 3”, Roberts went on an expedition, researching and filming people across the country on the sexualization of women in American society.
Roberts’s film poses the question, “What has the media done to our society?” Roberts points that decades ago, things were more “innocent.” Actress Marilyn Monroe was portrayed as the average sized woman, one who showed off her curves and embraced her size 12. In 2015, size zero is what our youths are shown as being average. Little girls are being taught that “sexy” is better and if they do not look a certain way, they will be treated negatively. Girls constantly compare themselves to unattainable and unreasonable body types that are plastered on advertisements on every commercial and billboard.
The film followed Cali Linstrom, a 17-year-old, who suffered from depression and eating disorders. Linstrom worked with Roberts to get in contact with the clothing retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch.
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, admitted that, “A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” The company refused to stock sizes larger than a size 10, because they did not want “larger girls” to wear their clothes.
After pitching a speech to the executive board, the company agreed to work with Linstrom on an anti-bullying campaign. Over the past two years, Abercrombie & Fitch has changed their clothing line, and claims to no longer sexualize women in their advertisements.
The “envelope is being pushed,” said Roberts. “I would love to get our culture back to where it used to be and we can relate to one another on a human level,” Roberts said.
The sexualization of women in advertisements is just one of the many points Roberts touched upon in his documentary and pornography was another. Boys as young as 11 years old are viewing pornography, because the internet has made it anonymous and accessible.
During the film, there were multiple clips shown behind the scenes of a pornography film, where women were treated brutally. Interviewees described women in films as “objects” and one male even admitted that after viewing porn, he treated women as if they were not even human. Roberts explained that when he was younger, porn was used to make boys want to get a girlfriend and “make love,” while now, porn is making sex seem casual and undermining.
Roberts’s third topic in his documentary is rape culture. One of the issues that originally sparked Roberts to make this film was a trending “list” made by a male student at Miami University entitled “10 ways to get away with rape.” Through research, Roberts discovered that one out of four women are sexually assaulted and that about 820,000 teens become pregnant in the United States every year. One interviewee claimed that teenagers get two messages during their high school years: “Be safe,” or “don’t have sex.”
Roberts believes that these statistics lead back to how youth are being raised. “I hope students will understand that one of the things we need to start doing is finding out what it means to have a healthy sexuality,” Roberts said. “I think that’s one of the ways we can have a discussion and really create an infrastructure where our youth can talk about what they’re feeling.” He explained that students should not be bashful or ashamed and know that there is a safe zone where they can talk to adults.
“It’s important to be an individual and not follow the fads, fashion trends and music trends,” Roberts said. “It’s important to really develop oneself and find out what is unique about you. I think our power is in our uniqueness.”
Roberts has presented his documentary and spoken to 50 different universities, since he believes college students need to be aware of our society and what they can do to make a change.
“College students are the next generation of professionals,” Roberts said. “I like catching people right before they go into the workforce and giving them something to think about. They can incorporate that into whom they are, which will become a part of the fabric of our society.”