Posted by: krystianhudson12 | February 8, 2013

Miss Representation

“Most of the feedback I received in letters was either about my looks or my sexuality.” This quote from Rachel Maddow was probably the one thing that really stuck out the most to me throughout all of the documentary, Miss Representation. I don’t know about anyone else, but this really caught me off guard. There were a lot of women in the documentary, talking about how women are judged by their looks, and this one was the most surprising to me. After really thinking about this more in depth after class, I can think of one reason why this quote is the one I distinctly remember.

The reason this quote seems to stand out to me is that Rachel Maddow was not wearing much, if any, make-up. She just showed her outer beauty. I’m not saying that that is a problem, I just found it interesting. I actually think that is an admirable thing to do. Considering all of the other women had noticeably more make-up on that Maddow, I think that is even more impressive.

This by itself is not enough to make this quote memorable. The clip from her show that is played with this quote seemed to tell a different story. In the clip, Rachel Maddow was shown wearing some pretty heavy make-up. Eye shadow, bright lipstick, blush. There was a huge difference in the Rachel Maddow shown on her show, and the Rachel Maddow shown in the documentary. I also don’t think it is a problem that she was wearing make-up on her show. That is a matter of personal preference, so if she wanted to wear the make-up, then so be it. For me personally, the problem lies in the severe differences in the two versions of Rachel Maddow that were shown. For someone to go from wearing extremely minimal, very natural make-up to very heavy make-up is a drastic change.

That difference just goes along with our reading from the Wilson book about how media influences the way women are expected to look. This was extremely eye opening to me because it was a real-life, side-by-side example of media’s influence over women in our society. Media tells us that when we are on TV, we are supposed to look more put-together and perfect. But if we are promoting women’s rights, we are supposed to look more natural. This is completely absurd. Women are supposed to look however they want to look, and however makes them happy. This double standard is so unfair to women everywhere, and if we are ever going to overcome it, we need women who are willing to stand up and say that they are beautiful just the way they are, with or without make-up.


  1. Its almost scary how we can’t even talk about women in leadership without going on a track of describing how their apperance should be. A leader should be the best qualified individual that can represent the position and make the best decisions for the group as a whole. Appereance has become such a priority in the media that it seems to consumes everyones expectations and how we must look to others. And if you aren’t fitting that expecatation you must fix it. That is ridiculous. People are beautiful in there own ways and it really makes me mad to think that others need to conform their ways to be how we expect for them to be. People can present really great things but if we are constantly telling them to change how will we ever proceed in a positive way if we cant allow them to be themselves. People are never going to want to achieve anything if they think that it will never be accepted becasue of expectations.

  2. I noticed this as well! I found it very interesting that all the women were talking about the media’s portrayal of women yet they were all still wearing excessive makeup and had their hair done nicely (with the exception of Maddow). It is one thing to talk about it and advocate for it but to lead by EXAMPLE is the true test. I feel like it would have be a profound statement if Oprah, Katie Curic, ect. did this documentary in a black t-shirt with no makeup, all natural. Wouldn’t have that been cool? To see some of the media’s most famous faces so public completely raw, discussing this issue? I appreciated that Maddow did this, and was obviously comfortable in her own skin. It was interesting that in the clips for the show, she was all done up. I wonder if this was by choice or something that the show requires her to do…

  3. Media doesn’t affect documentaries at all. There are so many documentaries made and how many of them actually make a damn bit of difference? Okay so super size me made me completely quit McDonald’s. Big deal. Any 10 year old should be able to figure out that fried food no matter where it’s made, eaten in large proportions for a long period of time, will probably make you heavy. That was an example of a documentary basically stating the obvious and the general public ate it up because it was “eye-opening”. But here, with Miss Representation, we have such a tough, and complicated, topic to deal with that only those who really pay attention, recognizing the big picture, will even be remotely affected. It’ll take much more than a documentary to change a society’s opinion. The media still has the upper hand no matter what. I bet you Rachel Maddow probably only wears make-up when she is in front of the camera on her show or out at red carpets. Two places where the media owns. If she didn’t wear make-up how many people who are sipping the stereotypical “women should look this way” kool-aid would stop watching over time? Probably a lot. Then her ratings go down and the show is cancelled all over some cheap facial products. It’s ridiculous, but it’s reality. The media own her career. She has to play within the feminine “rules” or she won’t make enough money. With with a documentary, hell, go make-up less with hairy underarms, it’s fine with the media. They know that not enough people are going to watch it and/or appreciate the message so it doesn’t matter.

  4. As weird as it is to see the double standard, we have to remember that even men wear make up in front of the cameras. Both genders are subjected to the same level of pressure to look good in front of the cameras, especially now with the option of HD tv. Who wouldn’t want to wear makeup with that level of clarity being shown of your face!! We as society have to remember the pressure put on both genders to appear “perfect.” The expectations for women are more obvious and more pronounced, but men are dealing with the same underlying standards.

    But I do agree it is semi-disappointing to have seen Rachel Maddow with a double standard for herself.

  5. I noticed the exact same thing. It really surprised and puzzled me. I found myself wondering which version of Maddow she herself felt more comfortable with. If the natural look is the most comfortable, I can understand that, but why does she feel the need to wear so much makeup on her show? it didn’t make sense. She is obviously confident enough to stand up for herself, so she could easily ask for lighter makeup. But she doesn’t. Her show gives viewers a version that is all about looks and flattering her appearance, not her stories. All in all it was disappointing and a litle odd.

  6. Good point that you made, thank you for that! The comment that someone made in class about wearing makeup I think relates and gave me pause. I used to not feel comfortable going “bare faced” in public but I recently have been okay with going with little or no makeup. What made the change? I’ve always had acne so I tried to hide it my entire high school career. People who wear makeup don’t necessarily do it to conform to values of what a woman “should” look like or something like that. What you said about women wearing and looking like how they want to is something that should be put on a t-shirt and embraced. Everything is different for each individual so one person who may be judged because they are or are not wearing makeup may be doing it on their own terms.

  7. I really like this point you made about make up. For me, I often don’t wear makeup, but when I do, I always feel like I look better. The other day me and my friend were having a conversation about make up, she wears it and I don’t unless I have somewhere nice I’m going. We began discussing whether the decision to wear make up was purely our own desire because we like the artistic side to it or whether it is something that is influenced by society and the inane desire for perfection in beauty, especially for beauty in women. When it comes to make up, I know that I often feel that I will look better when I wear it but I still don’t mainly because I don’t really care/have the money to buy any/have the skill to on anything other mascara and chapstick.

  8. I couldn’t agree with this double standard issue more. I believe that it is because of the media and the expectations of women that wearing make-up is such a must in today’s society. On mornings where I am too tired from studying or late to class, I run out the door without make-up and the number of people that ask me, “are you okay?”, is unbelievable!!! I could be having the worst day ever and have a frown on my face with make-up on, but people would be sooner to ask me if I was okay when my face simply just doesnt have make-up on. Women seen to not have make-up on are thought to be either upset or sick, when why cant it be neither? Why is it not okay for women to walk out the door just the way we are, when instead we are looked down upon. I commend the women that do but at the same time, women will always want to impress and live up to the standard. I believe the comments above and the article is right about people needing to start a new completely natural trend of not wearing make-up in order to see peoples true beauty because as seen in the media, make-up can make anyone look beautiful. I believe there would be a huge change in perspective of beauty if the whole world just stopped wearing make-up and using ways to alter outselves, a new image of a beautiful women would arrise and I would be really interested to see what that would look like.

  9. It is really tough to not only be a teenage girl growing up in America, but being an adult now looking back on these teenagers who had to suffer such a hardship in school and beyond. Fortunately I had the opportunity to live in a few different countries throughout my life. Prior to moving to America a friend of my parents who had moved to America 5 years earlier warned my parents that life was really “tough” for teenage girls here and they should strongly consider the move with having so may children. It was tough growing up as a teenager in a society in which everything you wear, the way you look on a daily basis, your actions, and even your body weight and shape basically control the type of life you will have in school, whether you will be popular or not, whether you are accepted or not. The importance the media is putting on appearance dress and body shape is making it impossible for young women in our society to develop any sort of individuality or confidence in themselves.

  10. I agree. I found these women that were talking about how upset they were for being judged by their looks still trying to maintain their beautiful image. I think the film would be much more powerful if all of these powerful women had worn no makeup and black tshirts. I think the documentary was awesome, but the women need to practice what they preach.

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