Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Educator, Author

What harm can media do?

Looking at our Brave Girls Want campaign, which calls for less gender stereotyped media and marketing to children, you may be wondering what harm it can do for kids to be so heavily involved with the media. I mean, does it really make a difference?

The thing is, there has been a lot of research done that shows us that exposure to sexualized images of women really does make a difference in the way kids feel and behave.

For girls, looking at fashion magazines that promotes a “thin” ideal, watching prime time TV, and music videos with sexualized images is closely linked to depressive symptoms and low self-esteem. For both boys and girls, the more time they spend engaging with media, the lower their grades and the less contentment they express, especially related to who they are and their everyday lives.

So, spending time with media does make a difference in how kids feel about themselves. Higher rates of media involvement leads to higher rates of negative feelings and behaviors.  That’s an important thing for us to know. If it makes a difference, we need to pay attention to that.

The Brave Girls Want campaign and my own Operation: Transformation Campaign is about asking for healthier media and marketing options for children.  We’re not saying that all media and marketing that depicts princesses or pink or sparkles is bad. In fact, one of my own daughters is very stereotypically girly. I want her to see media depictions of girls like her. But what about the boys and girls that don’t fit into those narrow and rigid pink and blue boxes? Right now, media and marketing to children is so stereotyped that girls and boys that don’t meet those standards are generally left wondering what’s wrong with them.

Healthier options provide both girls and boys with the opportunity to see characters and stories that represent a wide range of interests. Girls can love sports and competition, boys can be nurturing and emotional, kids can play together with no romance involved. These don’t seem like unreasonable expectations. Won’t you join us in asking media makers and companies to step out of the pink and blue boxes and engage in some more creative thinking?

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Brave Girls Want campaign, check out our Indiegogo campaign to Invade Times Square!


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This entry was posted on August 15, 2013 by in Acting, Recognizing and tagged , , , .
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