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Miss Representation

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Miss Representation Movie Poster Image
Earnest, illuminating documentary about women and the media.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie urges viewers to open their eyes and truly weigh what the media is telling us about women. It takes a critical eye to the objectification of women in the media and examines how they’re diminished when they're "too old" or "too strong."

Positive Role Models & Representations

To help counter many of the included negative/iffy media images of women, the documentary includes interviews with strong women like Gloria Steinem, Katie Couric, and Rachel Maddow, who remind us that there are alternatives to the usual demoralizing female representations. Clips used to illustrate the movie's powerful message show women in positions that undermine other women and those that have them playing second fiddle to men or as sex objects for them.


Some illustrative clips show women physically attacking each other in TV shows that have them vying for male attention. Discussion of bullying and abusive relationships; some photographs of abuse survivors are disturbing, showing their bruises and wounds.


Some illustrative clips show women in skimpy clothing, bikinis, or barely there outfits and in sexualized situations. Others show women pole dancing, stripping, etc. One scene includes an ad that shows a young boy ogling a woman's cleavage.


Clips include uses of words such as "f--k," "bitchy," "whore," "skanks," and "moron" -- most of which are directed toward women.


The film examines different media, including commercials and ads, so the products they tout -- like Ralph Lauren and Obsession by Calvin Klein -- are also seen, but not in a selling/promotional context. Logos for MTV, Bravo, AOL, NBC, FOX, Newsweek, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking, put in context within illustrative film clips.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary offers a powerful, uncompromising look at how the media trivializes and sexualizes women. It's informative and enlightening and will be a total eye-opener for girls and their mothers. And it could move teens -- both girls and boys -- to re-examine how they absorb the images presented to them. Expect some strong language describing women (including one use of "f--k"), and photos and clips presenting women in sexual (or sexualized) situations, all of which are used to help drive home the movie's message. Note: Common Sense Media's founder/CEO, Jim Steyer, is one of the movie's interviewees.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHonolulee March 12, 2012

A Must See

It's not for young children, but especially for pre-teen and teen aged girls and boys, I think it's very powerful. In addition to making them aware o... Continue reading
Adult Written bylsdgls March 15, 2012

Watch it first!

The movie was good in that it teaches girls that they are more than the sum of their body parts. If you are pro-life and/or conservative, this movie really demo... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byShiShiGlo May 31, 2015

Extremely Relevant

I watched this documentary with my mother. I'm usually not interested in these types of movies, but she insisted and I'm glad she did. It pinpoints th... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 28, 2016

Miss Representation is educational and changes the way you view things.

I watched this while browsing netflix as an 11 year old seeing a post recommending it on an Instagram account I follow. It is very well made and is interesting... Continue reading

What's the story?

This documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom examines how women are misrepresented -- hence the title -- by the media day in and day out. Drowning in misleading images of women that portray them as valuable primarily for their looks and youth, the film suggests that today’s teens may be growing up with a skewed perspective, one that undermines their intelligence and substantive accomplishments. Grounded in Siebel Newsom’s own personal experiences, as well as those of others -- young and old, famous and not-so-famous -- MISS REPRESENTATION invites viewers to examine gender bias in what we see, hear, and view at the movies, on TV, and on the Internet.

Is it any good?

Bravo to Miss Representation for calling into question the way the media -- TV, movies, the Internet -- trivializes women and paints them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways as sex objects. It’s fascinating -- and, honestly, disheartening -- hearing actresses like Daphne Zuniga discuss the pressure to look younger through Botox and plastic surgery, and Jane Fonda talk about getting the message that she’s not good enough.

We rarely get such candor, and what the interviewees say will really make you think (for example, one commentator wittily describes morning talk show pairings as grandfather types and their second wives). And it's discomfiting to hear and see clips of admirable, accomplished women being disparaged, usually by men, for how they look. (One radio host calls former Secretary of State Madeline Albright a "fat hag"!) That said, what's revealed here isn't exactly new. Plus, the connections that the film makes by pairing interviews with statistics sometimes seem overemphasized, the dots too neatly connected. Nevertheless, Miss Representation is an absorbing, if sometimes dispiriting, film to watch. Show it to your girls -- and your boys.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media shapes our views of women. What messages do you see on TV, in movies, and on the web?

  • How do you think the media's many images of scantily  clad women affect the way that young women learn to view themselves?

  • How do you think the ways women are presented in the media has changed in the past several decades?

Movie details

For kids who love strong female characters

Our editors recommend

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