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Girls and the Media

This blog post describes a panel discussion on the documentary MissRepresentation recently shown at the George Sherman Hall at Boston University.

On Monday, October 22nd,  I was privileged to represent the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as a panelist to discuss the film Miss-Representation held at Boston University.  The film is a documentary on the affects the media has on the development of girls and their self-esteem.  It is a powerful film and the statistics it presents are disturbing.  For example, American teens spend:

  • 31 hours a week watching television
  • 17 hours a week listening to music
  • 3 hours a week watching movies
  • 4 hours a week reading magazines
  • 10 hours a week on-line

This averages to 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day; so if mainstream media bombards teens with their messages that "women should be beautiful and sexy, while men should be powerful (and often violent)" this is the message our teens are receiving.  Is it no wonder that 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies and by the age of 17, 78% are? 

If these statistics bother you, I urge you to educate yourselves and join the discussion.Hundreds of events across the country have been organized to bring awareness of this issue.  You can get more information by connecting with Miss-Representation on FaceBook or Twitter (#notbuying it), or just by visiting the website www.missrepresentation.org. This is more than just a "feminist" issue;  how society treats women and girls affects us all and it will take a community of women, men, boys and girls working together to stop the negative portrayals of women and girls in the media. 

How important is this issue? A young girl (16 years of age) attended the panel discussion, she and her friend drove up from Worcester to be a part of the discussion.  Why, because she knew there was issues of domestic violence, date rape and sexual assault in her high school and no one was talking about it.  As a journalism student, she felt compelled to attend the panel discussion in the hopes that she could connect with someone who could help, which she did.  She connected with many women who could provide information for her to disseminate to her classmates and girls in her community. 

As the panel discussion came to a close, the burning question was - what can I do tomorrow or at the community level to further this discussion?  There were a couple of suggestions: (1) call out sexism and sexist behavior when you see it, (2) compliment women and girls in a "substantive" way (i.e., how competent or smart she is versus how pretty), (3) educate yourself so you feel comfortable speaking about the topic and (4) join organizations that are working to make things better for women and girls.

Locally, I will be reaching out to community leaders, civic and service groups to continue this discussion.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to become involved.

Enjoy the Journey!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Remy Valeros October 29, 2012 at 11:19 AM
It is very disturbing once you figure out that those Hollywood commercials create psychological conditions that makes a girl or woman feel like they are not good enough, so, they must buy the products or services that's being marketed in the media. This portrayal of female being inadequate without the products and services is supposed to make us run to the department store and buy pruducts such as make ups, diet products, accesories, blings sucn as jewelry and clothings that suppose to make us look thin amd updated. Feeling comfortable and confident about one's self must begin at home. Parents, family and friends must take take quality time to let the younger generations, not just the girls.....the boys and men are hit by the lies and misreprresentations the advertising media feed us visually as well audio. This is not just a so called "feminist issue". This is considered a "Public Health Issue" as well....... Think about it! Ms. Remy Valeros Greater Boston, 02148
Elizabeth A. Hart October 29, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Well said, thank you for your comments.
Suzanne Lewandowski November 01, 2012 at 01:28 AM
As founder of the Eating Disorders Collaborative of Massachusetts, and a survivor (after decades) of this most insidious disease, I know full well how one’s future can be robbed before there has even been a chance to explore all life has to offer. There are so many pieces that contribute to the development of food disorders. Ms. Remy Valeros is so right about the media manipulating the perceptions of males as well as females and it is indeed a public health issue. Children emulate their parents: how they handle conflict, how they relax or self-soothe in this stressful world, how they cope with the ups and downs with life. They are also especially cognizant and susceptible to parental dietary habits. It is so important that parents recognize how their actions and biases affect their children and get help for their own behaviors that may be unhealthy. We must band together to help our children to grow up to be more compassionate, self-sufficient, and benevolent human beings. Parents need to volunteer and teach their children the importance of teamwork and helping others. This helps more than any make-up, clothing, or bling; volunteering exposes everyone to new skill sets, opportunities, passions, and friendships.

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