Did you know that most 8-18-year-olds spend an average of 10 hours of their day engaging with media? That is more than other activity besides school and sleeping. The messages from these media sources are powerful ones and can limit children’s ideas of what is possible in the world, being detrimental to their physical, emotional and social health. For girls, all of these facets of health are interrelated. A girl’s self-esteem and body image are a critical part of girls’ health and can often be manifested socially and physically.
According to the Geena Davis Institute, in the media girls are often depicted as sexualized objects valued only for their physical attributes and are often depicted as passive and submissive to men with limited aspirations. Even media images directed at children reinforce stereotypes that girls and women must achieve physical perfection to be valued. These representations limit girl’s aspirations and leave them without any active, ambitious female role models in the media to emulate.
The emotional pressure from the media for girls to attain a certain standard of physical attractiveness places negative ramifications on girl’s physical health as is demonstrated in the recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Beauty Redefined: Girls and Body Image 2010. This study found that nearly 90 percent of girls feel pressure from the media to be thin, and 60 percent of girls compare their bodies to fashion models. Only 46 percent of girls believe that the fashion industry does a good job of representing people of all races and ethnicities.
The problem is not only what girl’s think- it’s also what they do. The same survey found that more than half of the girls admit to dieting to try to lose weight and 31 percent admit to starving themselves. These pressures have resulted in younger girls developing eating disorders and undergoing cosmetic surgery. Low self-esteem is also contributing to girl’s decreased success in school and extracurricular activities, premature sexual activity, and unhealthy and unsafe relationships with boys and partners.
Even though we have seen a rise in girl-centric media there is still not an equal playing field or enough positive representations of women and girls. However, if we continue to get the right messaging out there, we can help girls have a more positive body image, higher aspirations, and healthier relationships.
We at the Girl Scouts provide a safe place for girls to grow into women of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Through the use of the new Girl Scout Leadership Journeys, It’s Your Story-Tell It!, and It’s Your World-Change It!, Girl Scouts of Colorado is bringing new programming opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of promoting healthy media message for girls and women and teaching girls how to create their own media to tell their stories. However, it will take the support and effort of our entire community to ensure that our kids are receiving healthy media images.
Girl Scouts of Colorado asks our community to join us in promoting policies and practices among our local government and businesses to provide healthy media images for girls and women. It is time we make a strong commitment towards creating a community truly invested in girls’ success and health. Together we can create an environment that fosters its children’s health and wellbeing.
To take action locally, visit http://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/activities to enroll in our film screening of the 2011 critically acclaimed documentary, Miss Representation featuring a guest panel of local experts and participate in our Healthy Media for Youth Community Conversations moderated by Cynthia Hessin from Rocky Mountain PBS.
For additional information or to share ideas, contact Cortney Healy at Myworld@gscolorado.org
Opportunities to further Support Healthy Media:
Watch What You Watch PSA
·Watch it. Post it. Share it. (click here for link)
· Pass along the YouTube link to those you care about
· Feature the PSA on your website and social networks
Healthy Media for Youth Act
· Send a support letter to your Members of Congress
· Ensure your organization endorses this legislation
· Encourage others to take action
· Join the Girl Scout Advocacy Network at www.GirlScouts4girls.org
Highlight Girl Scout Research and Programming in your work
· Highlight the Girl Scout Research Institute findings
· Feature Girl Scouts of the USA’s newest program, It’s Your Story-Tell It!
Promote the Issue
Finally, please share any ideas or suggestions you might have for us as we move forward by e-mailing Cortney.Healy@gscolorado.org
Want a new reality? Girl Scouts does too! Stand up for girls and join us to Take Action!