Powerhouse Roxana Lissa has one of the most fascinating Made Woman stories I’ve heard to date. A true rags to riches story, Roxana arrived in the U.S. from Buenos Aires in 1992 when she was only 21 years old. She had graduated with honors from Argentina Business University but didn’t have much when she came to this country. Young but determined, she didn’t let the “take no prisoners”, American workplace intimidate her. Roxana moved from one global PR firm to another, killing the game at every stop. In 1996, it was time for her to make her first big power grab and open her first business, RL Public Relations + Marketing. Roxana quickly took center stage in the PR industry, becoming a pioneer with her work in the Hispanic market. That same year she was featured on the cover of La Opinion’s business section -- the nation’s leading Hispanic daily.
RL Public Relations is now the largest independently owned Hispanic PR agency in the U.S., with a client roster that includes Nike and Verizon Wireless to name a few. In 2003, the agency opened a New York office and launched sports marketing arm Sportivo. Lissa is considered a visionary and mentor in the Hispanic PR field and was recently honored in PR Week’s first 40 under 40 issue. Not too bad for a Buenos Aires transplant who came to this country with pockets full of only dreams and determination.
For this interview I met with Roxana on location at her newest business venture, Iobella -- a stylish and innovative body-shaping spa for women. A few minutes into our conversation, I realized that I was completely in awe of her. This woman is unstoppable! A cancer survivor, with two small children and a growing PR firm that has huge corporate clients lining up, Lissa’s reasoning for opening a second business? She wanted a new challenge. Inspiring to say the least.
Serena Watson: So let’s start here. Tell me a little bit about your background?
Roxana Lissa: I’m from Argentina originally, Buenos Aires. I came here when I was 21 years old. I studied public relations in Argentina. I was engaged to an American here, we ended up getting divorced later. I’ve always lived in Los Angeles and I’ve always done Public Relations. That has been the core of my career. I’ve worked for different agencies, global PR firms and I’ve developed an expertise in the Hispanic, Latino and multicultural markets. I opened my agency back in 1996. We have offices in Los Angeles and New York. We represent a lot of Fortune 200 and 500 brands, from Proctor & Gamble to NIKE.
SW: What was your first job in PR?
RL: My first job in PR was in Argentina, for a non-profit foundation. I was in college so I was 19. When I came here I started working at a small PR Agency, called Cooper Communications. It was great. I was an intern working for free, and I didn’t care. I took a bus there everyday, because I didn’t drive. The true immigrant story, I didn’t have a car, I didn’t know how to drive, I had $500 in my wallet.
SW: That’s amazing, look at you now. What was the transition to living in the US and being in the American professional world?
RL: You know, that was one of the things I was very happy about, my training in Argentina was amazing. So I could compete easily with the professionals here. [My education] was kind of like a doctorate in Public Relations. It’s much more thorough and comprehensive in terms of the subjects. Here’s it different. You study communications, you study journalism, but it’s not quite like that in Argentina.
SW: So flash forward a few years and you had worked at a few different agencies including Helan Althen and Manning, Selvage and Lee. You started your own agency and things were going well. What made you want to do fitness?
RL: I think after doing PR for so long, I needed a new challenge. I knew I didn’t want to be a bigger PR firm and open more offices. And then the fact that this program is very effective and really gets results for women – I’ve always felt like an advocate for women. I meet a lot of women -- there are more women in PR than anything. So if I can do something to help women feel amazing, from the inside out, I think I want to do that.
That’s kind of what inspired me. Not necessarily the fitness business, per se, that’s not what drew me, what drew me was being a supportive place for women. You come here to lose inches, but we treat women with respect and this is a place where we pamper them. We have to go through so much as women. With kids, and jobs, and all those things.
Three years ago I went to Argentina and I tried this [program] over there and I loved it. I was like “oh my God, this is great.” I did 10 sessions in 3 weeks and my results were amazing. I was able to reduce inches. And I loved it so I said “You know what, I have to bring this concept [to LA.]” It took a year and a half to put it together. And then in November 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, I’m in remission now but I had to do everything; Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation – the whole thing.
SW: You’re a busy girl. How do you juggle all of this?
RL: It’s hard, it’s hard. First of all, you have to hire the right people. My manager here, Nicole is amazing. The first step so you don’t get completely overwhelmed is to rely on your staff. So you have to have an amazing staff that believes in your vision, and that believes in you. And at the same time can execute and carry out your vision. With my involvement but I can’t hold their hand. I need to have independent thinkers, good leaders that can carry out my vision. That’s kind of how I do it.
SW: Some of your clients are Fresh and Easy, NIKE, Verizon Wireless – all huge national brands. They come to you and ask you to add a dash of color, so to speak, to their campaigns. Can you talk about diversity in marketing and if you think it’s getting better?
RL: I still think there is a long way to go. There are many companies that are doing an amazing job with diversity. Verizon Wireless is one of them. Proctor and Gamble has made amazing inroads. Dominoes Pizza, for example, is another client of ours that has done an amazing job. But I think there is still a ways to go. In terms of having senior people and also advancements in the workplace. But I think it’s getting better, I think more and more companies value diversity. If you look at some of the companies that truly are successful, they have strong, diverse teams internally and that drives the company. And it starts at the top.
Now you see a trend called the total market approach. A lot of the companies are integrating and only doing one advertising campaign to target the multi-cultural markets. I think it’s a new thing and people are testing to see if it’s going to work. I think when you talk about the Hispanic market; it’s a little bit different. Language plays a big role. Again sometimes its separate, sometimes it not integrated. For example, we work with Nike and Nike is all integrated. That’s who they are as a brand.
SW: Talking more specifically about the Hispanic market and speaking directly to them, what are some of the strategies that you apply that are unique to that market?
RL: I think for the PR campaigns we develop, I think relevancy is very important. There are certain things that are more culturally relevant than others. We just finished a big event Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) it has become more of a mainstream celebration. But it’s anchored in Latino culture. This is the type of things where you can promote certain brands that have the right association while tapping into something that the Latino community is going to love. So sometimes a client will give me a general marketing campaign and ask, “can you just translate.” Sometimes that works but usually we have to look at it and say we need to make it more relevant. And that’s what we do.
SW: What was your most memorable campaign?
RL: The most memorable and the most fun was this series of concerts that we did for five years for Miller Genuine Draft and it was called Solo Con Invitation. It was so much fun. It was a series of intimate concerts – no more than 1,000 people -- with top Latino acts. I think this was one of those core programs that became a memorable program that people still talk about because it was just very unique and very cool.
One of the cool programs that we are doing right now is for “Got Milk.” We are doing the Breakfast Challenge with schools in California to make sure kids drink milk with breakfast and to highlight the importance of eating breakfast before you go to school. We try to do good programs that are going to have a good message in the end.
SW: What’s next for RL Public Relations + Marketing?
RL: Right now my goal is to also work with more entrepreneurial companies, not necessarily the biggest companies. Maybe before I was more focused on that but now I want to be more geared towards entrepreneurial brands that have a purpose. So changing the focus a little bit.
I can wish Roxana well on her goals for both RL Public Relations and with Iobella but I know that with her track record she can do whatever she sets her mind to. Oh, and I’m definitely planning to try out the Iobella workout and let you all know how it works! Stay tuned for my review and keep up with Roxana Lissa here.
This article was originally published on Danielle-Dowling.com
So what is it about the woman that always gets the guy? You know who I’m talking about.
Every guy you know thinks she’s cool/smart/funny. Men get giddy around her. Conversations stall when she walks into a room.
What does she know that the rest of us don’t?
Girl, it’s not about what she has – so much as what she doesn’t have. It’s pretty likely that men are attracted to her not only because of the things that she does, but because of the things that she doesn’t do.
And I can guarantee you that our Girl Wonder does not exhibit any of these three traits:
Ahh. The mother of all un-sexiness.
Sometimes (and this has probably happened to the best of us) we might feel a bit incomplete without a man or believe a relationship will solve our problems. The man in your life will smell this desperation a mile away. And desperation? It’s not a good look on anyone.
When you’re carrying around the (totally false) idea that you need a man to be complete, you’re giving away your power.
Pause right there.
Think about it – when you place your contentment + happiness in the hands of another individual, you’re at their mercy. Are you willing to gamble your well-being on his actions or in-actions?
Besides, consider all the unnecessary pressure it puts on him! The pressure to live-up to your expectations of the perfect mate will be exhausting + a sure-fire way to incite disinterest.
Want to reclaim your power? Brilliant. Start by putting the kabosh on these actions:
1. Needing his approval of how you look
2. Incessant emailing, texting and phone calling. (not to mention obsessive checking of your own email or vmail–mmmhmm….we’ve all done it…)
3. Insisting you know where he is, was + will be 24-7
4. Too many whiny “I miss you’s” in that little girl voice
The number 2 way to send your man running for the hills.
It sounds like this:
“Do you still love me as much as before?”
“Do you think I look fat in this?”
“Am I pretty enough for you?”
Insecurity is rooted in another false idea – the idea that you are somehow not adequate. You’re only human and self-doubt is a very real emotion that we all feel from time to time. Totally normal.
However, staying stuck and investing in the idea that you are “less than” is a slippery slope. The key to being desirable is to allow yourself to have the feelings of insecurity but not indulge in them! (Easier said than done. I know. But practice makes perfect- so give ‘er a shot.)
Simply notice when those feeling come up and reflect…. "Hmph. There is that thought again. Interesting”…and then redirect your attention to what you’re doing at the moment. Imagine sitting by a babbling brook and noticing how the leaves glide across the surface of the water past you. Think of your insecure thoughts as those leaves.
You always have a choice.
You can either invest in your insecurity or your sexy.
Overly critical of others. Especially of other women:
Let’s get straight to the point, shall we? It is flat-out ugly when you
are outwardly critical, especially of other women. Imagine this: A beautiful woman walks into the room + your perfectly pleasant conversation with your sweetie quickly spirals into a sarcastic, snarkfest of gnarly criticism.
Why is it that women find it so difficult to compliment another gorgeous, accomplished woman? (Especially, in the presence of their honey?)
Answer: Yup, you guessed it–False ideas.
Somewhere we believe that by tearing other women down our man will not notice their attractiveness.
Reality Check: He probably noticed her 10 seconds before you did so it’s a waste of time. Not to mention that being critical paints you as jealous, insecure + really, kinda mean. And who wants to be That Girl?
Take notice of your energy level after such a barrage…does it feel heavy or light + airy? Eventually you will recognize that the ill-will is draining. On you + your man.
Personally whenever I see a hot, sassy mama I say to myself “You go, girl.” I’ve even been known to call my boyfriends attention to her killer shoes, stylish dress or confident ways. This way we both get to enjoy her shine + it fosters open dialogue between us. (Never a bad thing)
I will often stop a woman and tell her she looks great in her dress, or that her hair looks awesome and ask where she gets it cut. The appreciation + gratitude bestowed on me are rewarding and she walks away feeling just a little more shiny than before. Win-Win.
Let’s talk about how to amp up your sexy instead!
1. Take stock of how often you check your text/email out of a sense of desperation. This is your one and only life – slide back into the driver’s seat and reevaluate a better use of your energy. What is an action you can take right now that will focus your attention on your overall well-being + happiness? Yoga at lunch? Manicure with a girlfriend after work? Perhaps making that long put off phone call to your local graduate school or headhunter.
2. Feeling insecure cause you don’t fit in your skinny jeans from 11 years ago? Get-rid-of-them!
Honestly, how realistic is it that you’ll be that size again…have you considered that it’s cruel to keep them in your closet? That you are dismissing your present-day deliciousness? I am not suggesting that you pack on the lbs and ignore your health. I’m encouraging you to honor + dare I say…celebrate your womanly figure.
Toss the jeans.
3. When you see a stunning women, immediately catch INSECURITY + CRITICISM, and silently take notice of what you admire about her. Say “good for her.” And if you’re feeling real bold + saucy get her attention and give her the gift of a compliment.
The universe loves that stuff! I bet a compliment is already on its way to you.
Thirty. The big 3-0. Dirty 30. What exactly is it about this number that makes it synonymous the word “married” when mentioned in relation to a woman’s age? Who decided that the minute a girl is no longer a twenty-something, she must be, better be, should be married? It’s as if a secret memo was sent out to everyone in America stating:
Since most women are no longer getting married in their early 20’s, we’ve decided to increase the female marriage ceiling to age 30. Please make this information known throughout the land—from advertisements and word-of-mouth marketing to incessant Facebook posts from happy newlyweds—we need all ladies under 30 to be aware of this expectation so they can find Mr. Right prior to leaving their 20’s. So, if you happen to know a girl who is 27-29 years old, do pressure them to think about getting hitched for life ASAP.
The Powers that Be (Creators of social norms and customs that are rarely updated to reflect changes and growth within society. While some of these “rules” might not feel right or make sense, just go with the flow until otherwise notified.)
I live in LA, a city where both men and woman tend to marry a bit later in life, and yet I still spent the last years of my 20‘s feeling that somehow, I’d messed up. I had followed the wrong trail and thus, my “important-life-moments” timeline was off. It began slowly at first, when I was 27 ... an engagement post on Facebook, an invite to a wedding—it was happening. People I knew were beginning the next stage of life and saying “I do.”
For a minute, I too was part of the engaged-before-30-crowd. Nearing 28, I pushed the issue of marriage with my then-boyfriend of two years and he gave in, asked my parents for my hand and ... we waited. A year later when no date had been set and more importantly, I’d realized he was not my Mr. Forever, we broke up. Now, at 31, I look back and realize that while I was heartbroken, I was equally distraught thinking that I had just lost my chance to get married before I was 30.
But my 31-year-old self, still unmarried, knows something that my 27-year-old self did not. I am worth waiting for. My genuine happiness is worth waiting for. As fabulous MADE women, we deserve to get married when, and only when, we find the man who makes us glow from the inside and fits the detailed description of what we want in a life partner ... and then some. I’ve seen too many friends settle for Mr. Right-Before-30 and frankly, they are either not that happy, or worse—divorced.
Today, I believe I have found my Mr. Forever. We’ve been together for three years and because I am over 30 the pressure to get married is SUPER intense—my parents, my friends, my Facebook page now booming with babies and the little voice in my head asking, “When will it be my turn?” And let’s face it ladies—if we want to have babies, there is a real timeline—but, that should not change the fact that your dream life will never become your real life if you settle. So to the twenty-somethings who are panicking because there is no ring on the horizon and to the thirty-somethings who have yet to walk down the aisle, remember this:
1. MARRY BECAUSE YOU BOTH WANT TO - not because you’re about to be 30 and you force an ultimatum. Come on. We’ve all been there, girls! A nudge is fine, a subtle hint, sure. BUT DON’T BE THAT GIRL. If he doesn’t want to marry you, you DESERVE TO FIND A MAN WHO DOES.
2. MARRY WHEN YOU FIND MR. FOREVER - not because you’re turning 30 next year.
3. NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU WANT - in love, in work, in health, in life.
When you finally say “I do,” if you ever do, there is a good chance that you’ll only say it once. And you’ll be saying it to the right person, not just the person you found right before you turned 30.
Any woman who has worked in the music industry knows—and those who haven't can surmise, I'm sure—that it isn't the easiest world to excel in. Sure, many other realms of business are still male-dominated too; but the informality of music in particular, with its late-night studio sessions, youth-oriented lifestyle and infamous parties, can make it a tougher environment in which to be taken seriously as a woman. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to have hindered Nicole Plantin's career one bit. San Francisco-born but a New Yorker at heart (she moved to Queens at a young age, spent time in Long Island and Harlem, and attended college at NYU), Nicole entered the industry and hit the ground running. Ten-plus years in the game, she's built herself a career that’s coveted by many. From her interning at Elektra under Silvia Rhone to working with Pharrell and the Neptunes, to her current work at BMI as the Director of Writer/Publisher Relations, her experience is vast and her rolodex, long. And she’s using both to make her own rules and navigate the industry like a pro.
When I spoke to the music industry maven, she was right in the middle of BMI’s busiest time of year, prepping for their annual awards show. As huge an event as it is, her business unit is responsible for much more. “Our main responsibility is maintaining and developing relationships with our roster… It’s all relationship-building. It’s writer-pub relations, so it’s such a huge umbrella. Everyone needs something different. But it’s good, because you have the freedom to do a lot of different things.”
In addition to events, Nicole’s internal duties include handling writers and their accounts, keeping other departments in the loop about client activity and making sure everything is accurate. Externally, she says she has “a ton of communication with artists and songwriters directly. We’re dealing with their managers, their attorneys, and also people who might want to do something with us or connect with people on our roster.” She also meets with various people--songwriters, artists and their staff--who want her to hear their music, and this part of her role takes up a large amount of her time. “It’s funny because we always say ‘I have so many meetings!’ but that’s when you end up coming across really great stuff that you get really excited about. The cool thing is that you meet a lot of people early on in their careers.”
Which leads me back to Pharrell and the Neptunes (some of my all-time faves), who Nicole worked with early on in her own career, when she was an assistant to their manager. She saw them go from just “bubbling” new talent (“they maybe had two major singles out at the time”) and worked alongside them on their Star Trak label, then their joint venture with Arista, all the way to their deal with Interscope. Although, she admits she didn’t necessarily realize what she was a part of at the time: “It was kind of just happening but looking back now, you’re like, ‘Wow, that really was cool.’ But when you’re in it you’re just trying not to mess up!”
Varied in her background—she’s interned in A&R Administration, worked as a product manager, done artist development, is now involved in publishing—there has been one common thread throughout Nicole’s career. “There is no, ‘I can’t do that.’ And everything is, ‘now’; it has to happen at that moment. So you just learn how to make everything happen.” This skill has suited her well over the years, as many of her professional opportunities have stemmed from past bosses (many times, women), reaching back out to her. That’s what led her to her position on the west coast with BMI. Her current boss let her know about an opportunity across the country in LA, and Nicole jumped on it. And, the rest, as they say, is history.
But that’s not to say it’s been an easy road. While she feels her musical background and exposure to the industry early on has made working in music second-nature for her, she admits that the environment can pose a challenge for young women. How did she deal? “Sometimes you have to be more aggressive and outspoken, very direct. You can’t leave any room for confusion [when dealing with men]. I don’t think guys have to think about that, whereas we do.” But she’s not one to dwell. “You take it on; you just know that’s what it’s going to be. Don’t even look at is as being a woman in the industry. Don’t let it weigh too much on how you make decisions. When people see that you’re going to be a relationship that’s valuable, a lot of times they prefer to maintain that relationship and people will treat you accordingly.”
This approach and cultivating industry relationships has led her to signing the likes of TMinus, Mac Miller, Odd Future and Wiz Khalifa, among others. Her niche has become signing people early on in their careers, which means keeping her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry. Attending festivals, listening to music nonstop, talking to people who are “on the ground,” and cultivating relationships have all helped her to shine and expand her current role at BMI. “I love music. I like new artists—that’s what excites me still.” In addition to the music itself, she looks at the work ethic, online activity and the buzz new projects are creating to evaluate whether they’re a fit for BMI.
These days, she’s excited about the shift in the music industry, and the fact that things aren’t as predicted by formulas and formats. “It’s a good reflection of where we are as a people, and in leveling the playing field. People like what they want to like and it’s less genre-specific.” And who does she like? Female artists and songwriters like Jhene Aiko, Stacy Barthe and Bebe Ohare have caught her eye, in addition to rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, BJ the Chicago Kid and Chance the Rapper.
In the next few years, she sees herself working in, “a more creative, hands-on capacity with artists and their projects and playing a larger role in guiding the direction of their music and overall careers.” She’d also like to delve into more lifestyle initiatives specifically for cutting-edge women. World travel and starting a family are also on her radar. She’s most inspired by her mother, who “has always been an individual and marched to her own drum.” She’s also the woman who gave her the best piece of advice she’s received: “Sometimes, you have to go left to go right.” Left or right, Nicole Plantain seems to be a Made Woman on the path to her dreams.
So you've decided to sign up for the 5k run/walk. The advertisers at Revlon and the good folks at Made Woman have talked you into it. Great! Now, the next step is actually doing the training. If this is daunting to you, keep in mind that your body--that thing you stuff with potato chips and let lie around--needs exercise to be healthy. It's time for you to take it to the next level. You can even boost your results and see progressive health gains if you couple your long distance cardio with strength training. This way, you'll lose fat, not lean mass (muscle).
Now, you may be wondering how you'll be able to fit strength training into your week, when it's challenging enough to squeeze in the runs/walks. But if you think about it, it's actually quite simple to sneak in a few strength moves while you're out on your training runs. The perk is that if you maintain a consistent workout routine while eating a healthy diet--everything in moderation--weight loss is inevitable. Here are a few moves that will make that easier for you.
Body Benefit: Sculpts your whole leg
Stand in front of a set of stairs or low bench (lower than your knees) with your right foot on the step. With a slight forward lean, and navel pressed in tight, squeeze your cheeks, curl your left toes up, and step up. Slowly lower your foot back down. Repeat as many as you can slowly, and repeat on the opposite side.
Scapula Squeeze Push-ups
Body Benefit: Strengthens your chest, back, and arms
Place your hands on the back of a park bench, concrete planter, wall, or ground; the lower you are to the ground, the more challenging this will be. Curl your tailbone under you to prevent your lower back from bowing. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and slowly lower your chest, bringing your elbows to 90 degrees. Straighten your arms as you draw your shoulder blades apart. Repeat as many times as you can with good form.
Body Benefit: Builds stronger core muscles (includes the muscles that stabilize your spine AND your abs)
Hanging from a pull-up bar or tree branch, draw your shoulders down and tuck your tailbone under you. You might already feel your abs working. Then slowly draw your knees toward your chest. If that is too easy, straighten your legs. Without swinging, lower your legs slowly and repeat.
Remember, you can maximize your fat weight loss throughout your 5k training endeavor by incorporating strength training in your weekly routine. Use those muscles, so your body will burn your fat for fuel instead. Good luck and see you at the finish line!
Instagram, the phenom of an app, was started from the seed of an idea. One day, Kevin Systrom decided to take his passion for photography and make it useful for other consumers. And, while this ultimately made him a billion dollars, at its inception the idea was simple yet profoundly positive: He took something he loved and used it to enhance the desire of people to document their lives and become increasingly connected.
Each of us has the option in life to create something that adds value to our lives and the lives of others, or to sit back and simply consume. The latter requires little to no effort, while the former requires an idea and bravery.
Each and every one of us is filled to the brim with plans and ideas. The difficulty sometimes lies in activation. Ideas are very personal. From the start, they only exist in the mind of the individual. They become progressively more public as the creator erases self-doubt and becomes more firmly rooted in the power of their idea. Some decide to wait for the validation of others, and some plow forward and trust that their passion will be enough. I am convinced that those who move forward without validation become the most successful.
Now, if you have an idea and you’re brave enough to fail, consider one more thing: how will you affect other people? This applies to anyone who has plans to pursue their passion, whether that is music, filmmaking, medicine, law or environmental policy. Step outside of yourself and consider your creative karma. Whatever you choose to create, your work will have an expansive reach. And, assuming that you want to have a positive effect, make sure that your idea has the potential to do so. If not in the best interest of others, then perhaps consider that what you create will come back to you.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration as you take a chance on your ideas:
Robert Krulwich 2011 Berkeley School of Journalism Commencement Speech: here
Fast Company: The Dirty Little Secret of Overnight Successes: here
Sometimes a simple glance at something--a giggling baby, some cool architecture, a bossy motto--is enough to help you regain your focus. Whether it gives you that extra kick of confidence to finish out a long day, reminds you why the hell you work so hard, or just makes you say, "Awwww!" the power of visual stimulation to lift your mood can't be matched. If you follow our Facebook and Twitter pages you already know how much we love a good photo. So we decided to compile the Made Woman staff's favorite selections for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself". Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more!
Sometimes in life we are blessed with signs or milestones or affirmations that let us know that we are on the right path. The film I saw last night, Miss Representation, was an affirmation for me. It talked about something I knew: that there is extreme sexism and objectification of women in American media which results in our disempowerment. We make less money, have less upward mobility and we are evaluated and judged by our looks alone. But it talked about something else too, something that I didn’t know—it’s getting worse. According to the Miss Representation website, the number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth 18 or younger more than tripled from 1997 to 2007, and 65% of American women and girls today have an eating disorder. Women hold 17% of the seats in the House of Representatives and comprise merely 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs. Statistics like these cast doubt on those that say the issue of equality for women “is getting better” and use a Beyonce song as proof.
But I’m not writing this to regurgitate the statistics I learned from the movie, as shocking and unacceptable as they are. I am writing this because I saw a great documentary and was inspired by it. Living in LA and working in the entertainment industry, I meet people every day with a story to tell. People who have dreams and ambitions they value, myself included. But very rarely do we question who is shaping our dreams and desires. What makes us want what we want? We may attribute some of this to our experiences, our parents or our culture, but the film Miss Representation highlights and underscores the fact that media has a HUGE role in shaping our view of the world and of ourselves. This wouldn’t be so bad if the media didn’t view women through some sort of weird, scary fun house mirror.
If you wrote a list of requirements for what a woman should be based on what you saw in magazines, TV shows and mainstream films, it would read something like this: Race--white, age-- 16-24, hair—blond, measurements-- 34 (or bigger), 24, 36 (or bigger depending on which channel you’re watching), marital status—single and desperately seeking a man or married (to a man), intelligence-- N/A. But if you actually look around your offices, schools, and homes, women have so much more to offer than this. Miss Representation emphasizes the contrast between these portrayals and reality, and then examines the effects of such a stark misrepresentation. It was eye-opening to say the least.
Instead of encouraging women to go out and slap the nearest man because of these horrible effects, the filmmakers urge their audience to become more media literate so that they can better understand the messages being thrown at them daily, from every angle. They also call for the boycotting of media outlets that ONLY portray women as catty, anorexic bimbos and idiots. But most importantly, they encourage people to create their own stories; to produce and share diverse representations of women in order to empower us all.
Hence, the affirmation I mentioned earlier. Two years ago, my business partner and I started Made Woman Magazine in an effort to unite and empower young professional women. We did this on our own dime and in our own sweet time. This movie proved to me that our efforts couldn’t have been more timely. Women are poised to come into their own; looking how they want and making their own rules. And it’s about damn time.
Nothing I write here can convey the power and effectiveness of this documentary, which won awards at seven film festivals. If you call yourself a filmmaker, an artist, a creative person…hell if you call yourself a human being, go see this film. Click here for a list of screenings.