I am a blogger and I love it. I consider it a vocation and it is almost (but not quite) the best vocation I have ever had. There is only one job I have held that is better than blogging, and that is being a mother. And when push comes to shove, I will always be a mother first and a blogger second.
Recently I attended BlissDom Canada in Toronto and while I was there, I got the chance to attend a screening of the fabulous documentary Miss Representation courtesy of UrbanMoms. I must confess, I am a big fan of documentaries and I eagerly signed up to attend the screening. I expected a thought-provoking film and great dialogue afterwards. I was definitely not disappointed in either regard.
The film discussed the way that women are sexualized and stereotyped by television and the media, and looked at the detrimental effect that this portrayal has on both young women and young men over time. It was fascinating and my mind was whirling afterwards.
The thing is, two separate parts of me reacted to the film. It spoke to me as a blogger, but it also spoke to me as a woman and mother. And as I mentioned, the mother in me will always be the first to react.
The mother in me was concerned about my son growing up with a skewed view of women as a result of years of conditioning. The mother in me also knew that the best defence against that threat was being an active and positive influence in his life, both by controlling the amount of exposure he received and by ensuring that I was presenting a good example for him in the way I presented myself and the way I spoke to and about other women.
The mother in me was scared for the little girls of this generation that were already being conditioned to sit around looking pretty and waiting for a handsome prince to arrive and take care of them forever. The “princess mentality” is cute when a child is four. But what about when that child becomes a teenager? Low self-esteem is a huge problem for teenage girls today and it breaks my heart to see how many of them think that their worth is based solely on the way that they look.
The mother in me kept my mind busy for hours after the film as I talked with other mothers, considered some of the movie’s key points and pondered possible courses of action that I could take to make a difference. But finally there came a time when the mother in me knew she had said enough and when that happened, I was finally able to look at the film not just as a woman, but as a blogger.
The blogger in me may be quiet during times like these but she isn’t idle. She is mulling things over, biding her time. And when she gets the chance, she speaks her message loud and clear. And this is what the message was:
WE can create the new perceptions of women and men. WE already do. Every time we write a post about a woman’s intelligence or accomplishments. Every time we express self-love or love for others that isn’t based on appearance. Every time we write ANYTHING, we send our own message and our own perceptions out into the world. And as so many brands and companies are realizing, we are an incredibly powerful force.
But here’s the catch. WE don’t have nearly so much impact if we all have a different message. And it can be easy to support the stereotypes without even realizing it sometimes. Every time we sit down to write, we need to think about the perceptions that we are creating with our words so that we can be sure the message we’re sending to the world is one that we truly believe. We need to work as a team, to some extent. Yes, we all have our own thoughts and opinions, but we also have many things in common that can help bring us together. For example, I know every mom blogger I’ve ever met wants the very best life for her children. That’s something that we all care about.
In the end, it came down to awareness for me. Awareness that every time I speak, whether I’m doing so in real life or on my website, I’m sending a message. And I want that message to be one that will help make the world a better place for my children. Miss Representation gave me that awareness. And together with my fellow bloggers, we can use that awareness to make the entire world aware of a new generation of men and women…men and women whose worth comes from within.
Kathryn Lavallee is a freelance writer and mother of two energetic young boys with a talent for trouble. She loves good wine, organic chocolate and exchanging opinions about everything from politics to pizza. When she isn’t outdoors with her children exploring the Saskatchewan wilderness, she can be found blogging at Mommy Kat and Kids .