It’s no secret that many young girls suffer from low self-esteem, and that low self-esteem often leads to eating disorders, cutting, drinking, illegal drug use and other dangerous and potentially deadly behaviors.
The media contributes to some girls’ low self-esteem. Ads and other forms of media portray “perfect” looking women, creating unattainable ideals for girls. Striving for and never reaching those ideals, some girls begin to feel badly about themselves.
Not all girls have low self-esteem and not all girls are affected by media messages in the same way, but enough girls are affected by these messages that it is important to consider how to reverse these effects.
Media literacy is one way to combat the negative effects of media messages on young girls. Media literacy empowers girls to ask questions and think critically about the messages that bombard them every day.
The video below, “Girls Versus the Media: Improving Self-Esteem through Media Literacy,” provides a good initial overview of the effects of media messages on girls and the importance of media literacy.
In the near future I will be conducting media literacy workshops with middle school girls with the hope of empowering them by helping them to think critically about the media messages they see every day. I will also be speaking with other women in the central Pennsylvania area who have implemented media literacy programs for girls. With them, I will discuss the importance of media literacy for girls, the effects of their media literacy programs, and how to continue to teach girls about the media.