Launching LetMeBME: A Worldwide Video Project

What would happen if I start asking women and girls around the world to answer 3 simple questions? This is the first short film produced from a selection of the first contributions received 😉

Eventually I would like to invite contributions from the men/boys, to see what is their view on question 1: I think it’s paramount to include all views and allow the project to be as inclusive and agenda-free as possible.

The project website www.letmebme.org is still under construction and I am looking for sponsors to effectively power the website with in-built video-uploading technology: this will bring the project to the next level as contributors will be able to directly share their uploaded videos through YouTube/Vimeo and other video sharing links. For now everyone interested in sharing their thoughts can send their short video via email to letmebme@mediasavvygirls.org or via tweet/facebook with the hashtag #letmeBME; our editor will upload all new contributions on a monthly basis.

In this era of social media and advanced video technology there is not excuse for not joining in and letting our voices be heard!

33 thoughts on “Launching LetMeBME: A Worldwide Video Project

  1. This is inspired!

    The best way for girls and women to be portrayed in the media is — as themselves! And this project is the avenue for that to happen.

    It’s wonderful to hear all the many perspectives that the girls and women have brought forth so far. I can’t wait to see the many others that will be inspired to present. Diversity and commonality both make us strong.

    🙂

    Andrea

    • I completely agree! Women should be portrayed as themselves, whether that be thin, fat, outgoing, kind, hot-headed, intelligent, artistic, or introverted. We all come in so many diverse shapes and forms and we really need to stop being stamped and packed into a labelled box.

      I liked the fact that the voices heard in the video were of women who were clearly from many diverse places and all had different ideas. This is the discussion we want – a diverse one where we can agree on our commonalities but have our diverse differences highlighted as well.

      • I’m impressed as well. I’ve taught public school for 20 + years in 4 different countries and I am pleased with the varying ages, cultures and stages of maturity of the women & girls who have participated. Watching the video clicked in my mind several echoes of women and students I’ve know around the world and the echoes are ringing true. I like that the message seems to be – be more realistic – be more equal – be less judgmental. Not only are these values that need to be portrayed more in the media by strong and vibrant female roles, it also needs to manifest in our local realities offline. I’m glad the naysayers were included, (the couple of girls who said they wouldn’t change anything) as I suspect they are the majority, especially among those girls who are already deeply invested in the system as it is, or they think they have a chance to be. And the young man as a final note, we can’t discount the male voice in swaying advertising dollars, which in large part, fund this or that paradigm.

    • I totally agree! And I think one of the most awesome parts is that the women involved in this campaign appear on-screen… simply meaning, it’s a double-whammy. They can freely speak their minds, while also defying what we have come to expect from seeing women on our screens and monitors. In other words – just being real!

  2. This is truly inspiring.

    I definitely think that creating a website where women can have their say, regardless of whether they wish to see change or not, is a wonderful way to create a ripple in the media sphere about the portrayal of women and girls.

    To be honest, I would prefer it if the media didn’t hone in on this fake beauty, or fake actions that women are supposed to have or be like, and rather portray women as who they really are. Every women has different perspectives, wants, needs and life ideas. Not every woman wants to have a successful career or be a CEO, not every woman wants to be a stay at home mom,and not every woman wants to do both. We come as a diverse group, and unfortunately that is no longer showed in the media.

    I would also like to perhaps see a sister website to it for men who want to speak out about how they are portrayed in the media and have an avenue to talk as well.

    Regardless, it is finding an avenue where people get speak in a “raw” manner so to speak about their own opinions is what counts. Some people don’t want to see change, or those who see through the fake lies don’t care enough to speak out. It’s all in how it affects us and in how we perceive it.

  3. This is absolutely amazing! I loved seeing responses from women all over the world. One thing I noticed is that there were a lot of reoccurring themes of what women said that they would change, such as the portrayal of perfection, and misconceptions about body sizes and what is “normal” or “good”. Showing women from all over the world really emphasizes that the skewed perceptions of women in media is REALLY global.

    Something needs to be done to change this. I am honored to be a part of this video and to share my feelings towards the matter, because I think it is a very important message! Young women should not grow up feeling that they need to act or behave a certain way in order to be seen as beautiful, they should grow up knowing they can be whoever and do whatever. It’s really sad.

    One women pointed out that the prominence of photoshopping and digitally editing women takes away from what is really important — her character. It would be lovely if that is what we focused on as a society. I agree with AJ and Danni that women are NOT objects but in society we are seen as a prize for guys. That’s not right.

    This is so inspiring and eye opening!!! The only way we should be portrayed in the media is simply as ourselves.


    Natasha

    • I would love to see more focus on character development in female roles in the media. I agree that having so many different perspectives – ultimately voicing the same themes – has a true global weight to the issues brought to the table. I did like the additional twist one young lady suggested, that if we highlight or make famous someone just because they are beautiful,. we should also highlight that woman’s charity work or community service. This was a sly suggestion that if the famous person didn’t have a charity event or volunteer resume, then perhaps *they* aren’t worthy of the fame. It seems like “beautiful plastic” people are everyone where and a dime a dozen in the media machine. Just look at the cycle of starlets that reach fame and peter out all within the 30 second to one minute commercial racket. They aren’t chosen for their deep expressive acting skills. They are chosen because they have a certain look that a large demographic just naturally responds to. Understanding why they respond to those looks, and how to change those perspectives, would be beating the marketing/advertising juggernaut at its own game.

  4. I love this project! I think it’s fantastic to get so much real life input from such a diverse population of women all over the world. This is the best way to combat exploitation of women through the media is by using technology and media to promote women’s beliefs about their identity and autonomy. Having women’s voices from all over the world be heard in this way unites women as a whole and makes them a more powerful force. Their honesty in their stories and opinions provides conviction for the cause of an improved representation of women throughout the world. Media representation is world-wide, so women’s opinions about representation of their gender should be a world-wide phenomenon as well. I would like to see women of future generations getting involved in this project as well. I watched this video with my 7 year old daughter and her 8 year old girlfriend, and after some help in defining certain words and concepts, they were able to grasp and have interest in the topic being discussed. I think girls of their age would be a tremendous asset for their input into these issues, since this is the generation of women who will be most exposed to sexualized media during their life times. I would also like to hear from older generations of women. I think its important for the growth of feminism to determine the ways (both successful and negative) that women’s representation has changed in the media over the past generations. As this project expands it has the potential to evaluate and solve problems present in the media representation of women all over the world.

  5. amazing!!!!! thanks for inviting me to be a part of this!! these girls are all beautiful with beautiful messages. Andrea is right, I love how you selected people from all over the world because being a girl is not just one sided when each girl is diverse and we are surrounded by diversity thats what makes everything so gorgeous and interesting… AJ has a good point too… women are not objects to be bought and we are all intelligent and special in our own way capable of changing the world. way to go Frankie, you are changing the world!!!

  6. I’m glad that you allowed all voices to be heard in this documentary. Too many times you are only able to hear the side that the organization who is sponsoring the information wants you to hear.

    I personally think that they should take out the fact that in the media women are what men get for buying this thing or that.

    Take a deodorant commercial. Before he’s using the product, you don’t see him with a woman. After he uses the product there are Bay Watch babes running toward him or hanging all over him.

    We aren’t a prize to be won for wearing deodorant (though it does help), buying beer, eating this food, using this body wash, or any other product that might ‘draw us to them.

    • Wow, AJ and Jess –

      I couldn’t agree more! I’ve noticed that…. in commercials where products are geared towards men, it’s always marketed that if a man buys “this” then women will come flocking to him. Why is this? Again, it is so skewed and simply unrealistic. Women shouldn’t be seen as an object or a prize. I’m pretty sure that in real life just because a man wears deodorant, a man will suddenly have a plethora of women hanging by his side….If anything they should just make it that he simply smells good and is more confident without including women in the picture.

      ♡,
      Natasha

      • OK, so it’s not just me! I’ve always thought it was a little off. I’m glad that other women are seeing that men shouldn’t have a prize of women just because they have a wonderful ‘deodorant’, ‘food’, etc.

        Thank you ladies for putting my mind at ease that I’m not just seeing it in the commercials.

    • I always wondered why they portrayed men as these attractive figures after they put deodorant on. Sure if you smell nice then people will want to be around you for longer, and if you smell bad then people will be propelled away from you, but there is no need to emphasize it as much as they do in the commercials.

      People should be prized for being hygienic, not for smelling good. Commercials just unfortunately don’t have a lot of grounded morals to them.

  7. This is a really neat concept and the answers might sometimes be surprising to us. I know my own children have spoken out on some very tough topics and the things they say are often so much farther beyond their scope of being that I begin to wonder if I have been treating them like children for far too long. I would be interested in following this project to see how it turns out and to see what some of the answers are. 🙂

  8. What a powerful video! I wish that more young women watched it. As a woman I know how hard it is to learn how to be yourself and to learn to not compare yourself to everyone and everything that we are exposed to through everyday media. Speaking out for all of the different women around the world is a great idea. We can all identify with these normal women even if they are coming from different parts of the world the focus is the same, “speaking up for women”. I couldn’t agree more with some of the videos: every woman should be seen for who they are and not what they look like.

  9. I really wish a website/project such as http://www.letmebme.org was around when I was growing up. Do I think it would have changed the direction I took in some of my decisions I made in my life? Yes!

    When you grow up without any outlet to discuss what you see or hear on TV or the radio, how are you going to know you can be strong, independent, smart, even the CEO of your own Company! This would be my case when you were brought up to believe women were suppose to be Secretaries. We took care of “The Boss”, which is always a man. If you try to “step outside the box” you are quickly pushed back in and told you are not allowed to do that because only a man can hold that position.

    There is still so much to learn and change in this area for women but I have to say, seeing sites like this coming forward and more women “stepping outside the box” and facing the challenges is just like Chantelle Clark said….truly inspiring.

    Please keep this project pushing ahead!

  10. What a wonderful project! I appreciate the diversity of women and their viewpoints represented especially, as several others have mentioned. To me these are the most obvious opinions, however, as a woman, my opinion is that wishing what the media would represent us as, is not an empowering. Like it or not, the media is a reflection of our wants…if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t sell anything and the media is all about selling you something, whether it’s a product or idea. We are the media. The fact is we are all enslaved by a patriarchal society. Yes, both genders, and for both genders it can be both beneficial and damaging, just in different ways. It’s when we break free of these norms that real change happens. And all change begins with the individual. Knowing this gives me the confidence and hope I see for our future. Inspiring video!

  11. I noticed in one segment a woman stating her value of rights for women and love for her husband, but distancing herself from the word, “feminism.” I don’t see feminism as a dirty word; the roots of the feminist movement is about equality (although it’s slowly evolving to the word, “humanism”). One cannot ignore that some issues are simply women’s issues, however, there is no hard line between women’s issues and men’s issues, as they are intertwined. Thank you for creating this project. It is truly thought-provoking and generates progressive discussion.

    • I run into that a LOT – that “feminism” is seen as a bad thing. I grew up in a very conservative religious culture and heard things like “feminists hate men” and “feminists look down on stay-at-home moms.” It’s really only been recently that I’ve realized how much bigger the concept of feminism is, and that being a feminist is all about supporting everyone’s rights to make their own decisions — if a mom wants to stay at home, she should be able to! If a dad wants to instead, he should be able to as well! Now I’m just doing my best to let other people around me know that feminist doesn’t have to mean man-hater.

  12. This was so inspiring! Tagging women with certain labels and classifying them into certain groups solely based on their gender is wrong. Here in Pakistan, women on media are just portrayed as nothing but an object that is there to beautify the surrounding. Although some women take this as a complement, but this is so wrong. Every women has a right to be herself and that is exactly how she should be portrayed. Objectifying them is just plain wrong. Even in my university, I have witnessed this act. Girls are mostly selected to be the spokesperson or host for many events, just because they’ll ” make things prettier”. This is not how it should be done. We should come out of the concept of this gender bias and should realize that women should be portrayed as themselves, rather than just an object.

  13. I love the diversity of comments. So important to hear different opinions. Change always begins with a conversation. For as long as people dismiss, stay quiet, ignore, pretend it isn’t a problem, things stay the same. As soon as we engage, we begin the process. It simply raises the vibration and brings it to a conscious level where people will be able to SEE that it actually exists and to BE thoughtful about it.

    Women are making massive headway in media. We’ve taken over the music industry, the reality tv shows, the news, social media and ever steadily – politics. BUT – so few of them are making a concerted effort to engage the conversation. We seem to be a afraid of one another, competitive, judgmental, rather than unified and supportive. In theory we are supportive, but in the arena, it’s a popularity game and the criteria seems to be who’s hot and who’s not, rather than brains, innovation, character, integrity, soul…

    Everyday I seek current events and media for strong female role models to show to my audience at HappySmartGirls, and every day I struggle to find a women/girls with a solid, confident voice who talk about more than what they are wearing, who is dating who, etc. Aside from Oprah, Maya Angelou, Marianne Williamson, Hilary Clinton – who out there is REALLY having an intelligent conversation our young ladies can relate to? Our anchor women are amazing – but they don’t draw the attention that say Beyonce and Miley do. our pop icons represent twerking, girl/girl kissing and talk in terms of “bitch” “haters” and so on… Truly disheartening. Here in the US media scene, I was impressed with Zendaya and Shailene on the teen choice awards. We need more of uplifting, positive young women role models and less of the slutty, negative, mean-girls spirit. I know Sheryl Sandberg made a stand and that works for some of the women exec’s but there is already a backlash to her position from the millennials who don’t agree with her conservatism and see Beyonce (and Miley) as the primary role model; sexy, hot, go-getter who has no fear.

    We need the Steve Jobs of women. We need the voice of Will Smith, in a woman. We need women to step-up and redefine what being a woman is all about. We are innovative. We are intelligent. We are wise. And yes, we are beautiful and sexy and feminine. We need to find our higher-voice and come together with a higher purpose.

  14. This is very moving. We have to be the change we want to see in the world. We have to let our voices be heard as women. Not only for ourselves but for the generations to come. The media on a whole is perpetuating the negative stereotypes that are causing a conflict and degradation in society today.

    The idea of beauty in society is one of the things I would love to see transformed. The idea and concept of beauty that young girls are growing up with today is not only destructive but also unrealistic.

  15. So glad I found your website. I love the message here. What frustrates me is that I think this message has gotten out. I don’t think its breaking news that women are dissatisfied with their portrayal in the media, yet change is slow in coming – as is often the case. It took decades for women to win the right to vote. We’re still working on inequities of women in the workplace, and we have yet to elect a female President, but we are getting there.
    But yes, the more aware women are of this undercurrent of misrepresentation the more they can do about it. That’s why projects like yours are so important. It creates awareness and makes people think twice about supporting companies, T.V. stations, magazines etc. who perpetuate unrealistic media images of women. We need to educate ourselves, and our daughters.
    Thanks for the call to action.

  16. This project has been great for me and I have discussed it with many women and girls I know, including my mother. We all agree that the media shapes our children but not only that, it shapes our lives. Even if you cut out TV, magazines and the internet, it is still human nature to follow others in the way of looks, fashion and behavior. It is for this reason I don’t believe any of us will become unaware of it.
    Women just have to be strong role models for their children, both male and female children to show them a good way to live.
    I believe that children will ultimately follow their parents. It might not be from childhood but we all seem to end up being exactly like our mothers. If we stay strong as parents and lead by example, perhaps our children can navigate this minefield we call life.
    I enjoyed reading this website as well as the comments left by other women and men here. Thank you.

  17. I’m going to try to word my thoughts carefully here because I don’t want to be misinterpreted. I don’t want to seem like I’m placing blame on any women, because that’s not at all my intent. But first let me start by saying that this project is wonderful, and so, so necessary. To see women taking a stand and saying “THIS is me, not some unrealistic ideal that the media has portrayed,” is great.

    But is it wrong to think that maybe in some ways, what’s holding women back is… other women? The women that are half naked in advertisements, the women that are used a sex objects and actually allow that to happen… I can understand wanting to further your career, I can understand the need to take certain jobs or do certain things, but shouldn’t they be held responsible at all – even a little bit – for the way that women are portrayed? Shouldn’t they stop and think, “Well maybe being in this commercial or posing for this advertisement will bring in a lot of money and attention, but is it worth it?”

    The women in the video in this post are standing up for themselves – isn’t it time for models and other women in advertising to do the same and refuse to be looked at as nothing more than a sex object? I read other comments on this blog where people said that if we stopped consuming the type of media that is being thrown at us then maybe it wouldn’t exist as much. If we stopped buying magazines with photoshopped women on every page maybe they would stop photoshopping women on every page. Well, if women approached for certain commercials/ads started to refuse to put themselves in that position, could those type of ads cease to be made?

    I don’t know if I’m making much sense here, but if you Google “women as sex object in the media” and look at the image results of these sexualized advertisements… I just can’t imagine why someone would agree to even partake in those ads. Of course, I’m not in that position, and I have no idea of how/why women justify being in those ads, so I can’t judge them and I won’t judge them. But from my outsider’s perspective it just seems like the women in the media should demand more respect.

    • I understand where you’re coming from, and I even agree with you. Many women are as much to blame for what they portray as the men who watch it. However, the women that pose for such images may tally in the millions, but the men who watch and enjoy the images tally in the billions.

  18. Each answer to a question in this project raises another question or makes you think deeper! This says something about the simplicity of the idea behind it while it shows its huge importance!

    As a 29-year-old European man, I am excited for the LETMEBME project because I strongly believe that letting people speak, making everyone’s voice heard around the world is of crucial importance and can lead to conclusions that will be able to help the modern people get over some old stereotypes and unfair standards, set a long time ago, when the media was controlled by a very specific type of people and the audiences were never asked their opinion!

    Of course, I believe that a very strong part of this project is that it lets men be heard as well, as they are the main ‘receivers’ of the female picture produced by the media! Diverse opinions will be heard and this is extremely helpful and of huge significance!

    Well done, Francesca! Excellent idea and perfect execution!

    Keep it up!

  19. This makes me sad. I hate that woman and girls feel this way. I grew up with feeling self conscious because always said I was “too skinny”. I always got comments like “do you eat?”, “are you bulimic?”. You cant win, you are either too skinny or too fat. So sad, I really hope things have changed by the time my daughter has to deal with it.

    • I completely know how you feel. Its usually other women that can be the most cruel. Comments like “eat a burger”, “are you losing weight? I didn’t mean it as a compliment”, “have you eaten?”, and “I bet she doesn’t eat”. Weight hate goes for both large and small women.

      Why do women have to be a specific size? Why can’t I just be the size I was meant to be?

  20. Francesca, I live and work with high school age girls and I was showing them the project. They thought it was cool, but asked “why is she doing this?” It wasn’t in a disrespectful way, rather out of their own curiosity. I started to explain, but then realized that I was overlaying my own interpretation of the project, based on reading your blog and other’s comments.

    In this post, you ask, “What would happen if…” and on the project page you note that the project is borne out of curiosity. What are you hoping will happen? Beyond this going viral, which is more of a desire to co-opt media, what (if anything) is the bigger purpose? Is there a hope that in expressing themselves, you’ll have ammunition to use to urge on change in the media? As a researcher, are you seeking to document (albeit without a scientific sample) perceptions of women in the media as a starting point for a larger research endeavor? Or, is curiosity for curiosity’s sake. as the harbinger of creativity, enough? Would love to understand your thinking behind the endeavor.

  21. I loved this idea and the videos. It gives me hope to see that men and women all over the world are fighting for women to be treated as equals and have our rights. I think that these videos are something I would show anyone who doesn’t believe in feminism, and they would very likely change their minds! Unfortunately, men are respected more than women, and even though we are trying to change that, I think for now, showing men who are feminists helps the cause.

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