Gender-Specific Youth Media Programs

Did you know that about 16,000 ads flicker past our consciousness daily?  Have you ever considered what these messages mean to you?  Or have you ever considered how these messages affect pre-teen and adolescent girls?

Check out this great video created by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty that illustrates the bombardment of these messages on young girls.  It will give you goosebumps, I promise. 

In an article on the Youth Media Reporter website, writer Rebeecca Richards Bullen discusses the importance of gender-specific media literacy.  She says, “Constant exposure of sexualization, objectification and images of gender stereotypes directly contribute to girls’ lack of self- and body-confidence, as well as depression and eating disorders.” Some of these negative aspects are vividly illustrated in the above video.  

Bullen’s suggestion for reversing these negative effects of the media on girls’ health choices is to “incorporate creative ways to encourage thinking beyond socialized gender norms.” 

 She highlights some programs, such as TVbyGIRLS, Reel Girls, and Beyond Media Education, that promote media literacy for girls using these creative techniques.  In just a few quick Google searches, it’s easy to find other media literacy programs and resources for girls, such as Girls Inc., My Pop Studio and New Moon Girls

Yet despite these numerous resources, there is still a great need for media literacy in schools and other youth programs, specifically for girls. 

This week I had the opportunity to speak with a middle school guidance counselor about setting up a media literacy workshop with a group of girls from her school.  She developed a series of after-school workshops in the spring to promote self-esteem and positive body image for girls with the help of university students and community members.  One thing lacking from the program, she said, was a media literacy component.  She could not find anyone to do it.  A media literacy workshop, she said, will definitely be beneficial for the girls at her school.

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