On Tuesday, November 16, a classmate from my Women and the Media class and I conducted a media literacy workshop for a group of 11 girls at the public middle school in Shippensburg, PA. We only had 75 minutes, so we had to narrow our focus of “media literacy.” We chose to discuss the hidden messages behind magazine covers and aimed to help girls understand the ways in which magazine covers can affect the way they think of themselves.
The girls surprised me, in a good way, because, based on their responses to the activities, it seemed that most of them had already had a rudimentary amount of media literacy education. They understood that looking at unrealistic images of women on the covers of magazines had the potential to lower girls’ body- and self-esteem. They embraced the “create your own magazine cover” activity and created a wide array of covers portraying positive images and words, like “Just Smile” and “The Real People Magazine.” These are images/messages they said they wished to see on magazine covers.
On the opening and closing surveys, the girls also showed an understanding of the affects of unrealistic images of women on magazine covers, although many of them distanced themselves from those affects. They answered that “some people” or “you” could be affected by the images, but none of the girls responded about how they personally are affected. Future media literacy workshops for girls could have a greater focus on each girls’ individual experience with the media.
The following is a brief outline of our workshop:Opening Survey – (upon completion, they choose the candy they will use for the icebreaker)
Icebreaker – Girls choose candy and each color represents a different question they have to answer about themselves or about pop culture
Lesson: Focusing on Print Media – Magazine Covers
In this lesson, we hope to help girls understand the ways in which magazine covers can affect the way they think of themselves. We will use different magazine covers to answer the following questions:
Authorship: Who created the message?
Format: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Audience: How might different people understand this message differently from me?
Content: What lifestyles, values, and point of views are represented in or omitted from, this message?
Purpose: What is this message being sent?
Video – Dove Evolution
Receive feedback from the girls by asking questions:
What just happened?
How does it make you feel?
Activity – Magazine Cover Project
Each girl creates her own magazine cover using cut-outs from old magazines and markers/crayons/colored pencils
Each girl discusses her magazine cover
Summary and Reflection
Lesson Review – Reinforce 5 media literacy questions
Challenge for the girls – consider those 5 questions next time she looks at magazines (or any type of ads/media)
Closing Survey – (they need to hand this in before leaving)