Watch & Reflect! A collection of featured videos in our You Tube channel

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Please check¬†MSG’s¬†You Tube channel playlist for some interesting videos and documentaries on the topic of “Media effects on girls’ body image and wellbeing”.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuW2vBvU29jEmo7DoAkQK_fyoHYLfBvQS

Many of them have been made by girls themselves. Please share far and wide + don’t forget to leave your comments or personal suggestions: how did they change your perception and awareness of the issue? ūüôā

A 15 years old girl realising the meaning of feminism

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This is what I found today in Tumbrl (Hear Me Roar blog) and, as it is written spontaneously by a fifteen years old American girl, we can only hope this statement may resonate with many more teenagers around the world.

Isn’t marvellous to read such a powerfully clear realisation from a 15-years old?

What was extraordinary is becoming ordinary: this is a brilliant example of how the internet has become a site of sharing and empowerment, where the awakening consciousness¬†of so¬†many young girls can reach out to others… gaining recognition, synergies and power¬†as the words spread around a myriad of blogs and sites: these¬†are the wonders of social media which I applaud and rely on¬†ūüėČ

Should Girls aim to be Cheerleaders or just…Leaders?

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Today I came across a recent article about cheerleading in The Guardian (prominent UK newspaper).

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/30/new-sport-acrobatics-and-tumbling?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

While the author tries her best to¬†sing the praises of¬†an exciting emerging new “sport”¬†for girls, most of the comments left at the bottom of the article seem not to agree with her, and I think this has a lot to do with many people’s resentment towards a foreign¬†imported tradition which seems to perpetrate the stereotype of girls as¬†nothing more than¬†attractive ornaments cheering for the boys (added of course to the fact that cheerleading – as a tradition – has little to do with this country):

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As an Italian,¬†I have always considered UK as a country very proud of its own traditions and not keen on importing foreign¬†customs, but judging from what I’m seeing in the last few years I have to say that there is an ever growing¬†influence of US culture which completely dispel my myth: from primary and secondary schools introducing the practice of proms¬†as end-year¬†celebrations (feeding relative anxieties to “look nice” or “find the boy to go with” or “who is going to be the queen”, not to mention the commercial expenditures associated with it!), to¬†the current wide spreading of new afterschool clubs offering¬†cheerleading classes, I¬†see¬†that the¬†influence is now becoming¬†fairly noticeable.

Anyway, I was curious to find out a bit more about this growing trend and another article from the 2010 archives of the Guardian came to help:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/oct/06/cheerleading-is-booming-in-schools
While I do not personally have any problem with foreign traditions being introduced and shared between countries (after all I am a traveller and find in cosmopolitanism a very stimulating way to live!) some of the¬†comments at the bottom of this article¬†seems to be¬†even more livid towards the influence of US culture: again, the criticism towards cheerleading¬†refer mostly to¬†the¬†prevalent connotation of the activity as a “training of cheering girls-ornaments for the boys”.

To tell the truth I would not have any problem¬†if cheerleading was promoted and popular among both sexes, but as it stands, the activity is¬†becoming more an exclusive girls’ endeavour here in UK¬†just as it is in US, and with this I do feel less comfortable!

Do we need another¬†influence¬†towards the “dancing bimbos cheering for the boys” in this era of constant bombardment, where¬†most of the images¬†seen by girls are¬†already reinforcing¬†this type of feminine¬†stereotype? Or at least if there could be more balance …let’s say more emphasis on sports and skills for a change instead of sparkly clothes and popularity!

So, I am not sure I am excited as many young girls are, regarding this new trend and I wonder if we could improve in taking the best we can from US traditions, that’s all…

 

The pornification of media culture: what young girls think?

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A friend sent me the link for an interesting article in Stuff.co.nz today:

The author¬†asked directly a group of young girls¬†about what they¬†thought of¬†Miley Cyrus’s MTV performance. I think is very interesting to hear their point of view on this and¬†what¬†I can read in this article¬†is not much different from the comments I am reading¬†in my participants’ Facebook wall (all girls 10-13 years old)

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/sexualisation-is-all-in-a-days-twerk-for-some-pop-stars-20130907-2tbnj.html

Their reaction is very well expressed through an old video of Hanna Montana spotted on my FB wall¬†and apparently¬†gone viral among youngsters these days: don’t forget to read the comments, it’s quite illuminating…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=535714613149558&set=vb.431851636869190&type=2&theatre

My personal impression from talking to young girls directly but also from researching, reading their comments of different forums, social networks and Facebook pages¬†is that most of them are incredibly grounded¬†and¬†maintain a¬†level-head attitude regarding the constant bombardment of sexualised material: it ‘s becoming so normal that I am wondering if all this emphasis the media and celebrity culture¬†put on sex would one day reach the point of having the opposite effect on our children: maybe they’ll get bored out of their heads to see it – completely desensitised – and nothing will really shock them¬†any more, however sexually explicit it might be!

The article made me realise that often adults have their pre-conceptions regarding how young girls (or children more in general)¬†would be influenced or react to certain material, so in¬†many instances¬†talking to them is not enough…we should really learn to LISTEN more ūüėČ

 

An interesting documentary about children’ sexualisation

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This is a very recent documentary from US regarding the sexualisation of children through media and marketing.

The documentary does a good job in making us reflect on the different values pushed on our kids by media, advertising and celebrity culture and it does stress how the reality in which children live today has dramatically changed from even a few years ago: they are constantly bombarded by images and messages, but there is rarely any guidance provided to them regarding how these messages and images are produced and which financial/political/ideological interests are behind certain representations.

The film¬†stresses also the necessity of¬†providing media literacy¬†interventions¬†at an earlier age. We can’t wait for kids to be 12-13: at that point they will¬†have already ingrained into them an incredible amount of¬†messages/images¬†on how to be successful, popular, sexy, beautiful, rich and so on!

The other day I was at a friend’s barbecue and I¬†had the chance of watching¬†with interest one of my friends reproaching (in a very stern way) her own daughter for posing and dancing in a sexually suggesting manner. Being the girl only 5 years old, the scene was actually quite disturbing for many adults to watch and embarrassing to say the least. The girl could not understand in the slightest why reproducing something that she actually seen many times over in TV shows or the internet was a¬†reprehensible¬†thing.

I felt both her pain and the one of her mother!

Only a¬†few years ago adults’ sexual¬†fantasies and imaginary were carefully screened from¬†children view, so we¬†did not have to deal with this sort of problems.

Today everything is on show and children watch with interest, indeed! There is a also a growing emphasis on sex and being sexy in the media, while at home or at school children are discouraged or told off if they express any sexuality or imitate any of the images and behaviours they see so often on TV, the WEB, magazines and so on.

Children¬†are thus living constantly connected, in a constant flow of images and messages which suggest them to be and act in a certain way, but they are expected at the same time from their family, parents and educators to refrain from reproducing the hyper-sexualised nature of these images/messages: what we demand from them is to continue¬†“behaving like a child”, despite the constant pressure surrounding them and the natural, playful, psychologically relevant attitude of children to imitate adult behaviour.

How¬†unrealistic our demand is! To expect from a child to know a priori whether a certain behaviour, action, presentation, performance is right or wrong without providing any guidance and advice regarding the nature of this ever-growing and ubiquitous media content…

…this is not just unrealistic, it is preposterous and unfair.

So let’s watch, reflect and move forwards: let’s give the chance to our children to fully comprehend what’s surrounding them.

Along with many other parents and educators, I am still wondering why media literacy is not becoming central as math or English literacy in the¬†primary school’s curriculum.¬†Despite the MediaSmart initiative being launched a few years ago in UK, there is¬†still a lot to be done in terms of efficacy, involvement¬†and reach:¬†year by year, we watch the “media and marketing machine” becoming ever more sophisticated, putting an ever increasing pressure on our kids, but – at part from¬†the¬†occasional protest¬†or bewilderment – we don’t offer solutions, failing to act urgently on the issue.

Our¬†children are left behind, wondering about¬†this constant¬†carousel of messages and images, gathering¬†important clues from them, probably constructing their own identity, aspirations and fears¬†around them…it is such a disfavour we are inflicting on our society not to¬†act with¬†urgency on this issue.

Back to the documentary. I am including both links: the first link¬†is for the short trailer in You Tube¬†while the second is the movie full length in¬†low resolution (watchable as a demo from the distributor’s website).

Happy (well…probably NOT SO HAPPY…) watching! ūüôā

 

Slutty Clothes for Young Girls: Irresponsible Parenting?

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I am receiving positive comments regarding the “Don’t you tell us it’s just a shirt!” slides.

But what many parents are more worried about is the “slutty” trend of clothes targeted¬†to girls at younger and younger age: mini skirts so mini that knickers are permanently on show and mini tops so mini¬†that nothing is left to the imagination. High heels are on the rise too and we talk about 6-8 years old sizes!

I have read also many articles regarding parents complaining to chain stores for selling inappropriate clothes¬†to young girls (a padded bra and tongue for 4 years old was a case in point) and in many instances the complaint seemed to work, at least¬†when there¬†was enough collective upraising regarding a particular “unsuitable” item.

Sadly, as we know, most of these clothes are still around.

The thing is: shops are selling this kind of attire¬†as long¬†as there is demand for them and at this stage we would expect the parents to¬†be the buyer of course, so… this means that there are parents around who are buying into this trend, right?¬†Instead of labelling these parents for being uncaring or irresponsible it would be better to consider that perhaps – due to their culture/background and upbringing – they simply haven’t thought about the issue in our terms.

Some parents may think that bringing up a daughter to be a gold digger or footballer wife is indeed a good thing. Messages and slogans that¬†some parents¬†perceive as disempowering, may well be perceived by another class of¬†parents¬†as empowering: indeed, the power of female sex appeal!¬†It all depends on perspectives and if you live your life surrounded by a raunchy culture it becomes second nature to¬†think and act in those terms.¬†For this reason, I don’t agree with many comments¬†accusing parents who buy this sort of clothes¬†being irresponsible and not caring about their daughters: the¬†way forward should be to avoid accusations and judgements, engaging in dialogue and reflection instead.

In my view, creating resources and thought-provoking material to awaken people’s consciousness of certain issues is one way to move forward. And another way is to be open-minded and ready to start a dialogue: next time you see someone buying into the slutty trend, try to put yourself in their shoes, thinking within their own frame of reference (not an easy thing I admit), instead of dismissing them as they were not capable of thinking. I have tried this myself with¬†a mother¬†and the conversation we started has made me realise that my preconceptions were¬†far from¬†accurate¬†ūüėČ

Another slide for reflection today, please pass it around!

Can we stop this stupid T-shirts’ trend against our girls?

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I am reading so many negative and angered comments from parents and girls alike regarding what I would call “the stupid T-shirt trend”!

The ones below are just an example of parent’s comments left on the Facebook page of one of the shop in question:

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customers feedback on t-shirt_1

customers feedback on t-shirt_2

So despite many parents’ dismay, it looks like some¬†marketers are working really hard to make sure that girls wear the right labelling attire, brilliant! So that anywhere they go the message will¬†be loud and clear about their dumbness? No thank you!¬†ūüôĀ

I was talking with a girl the other day who¬†seems to proudly display her “drama queen” shirt: I asked her “what is it to be proud about being a drama queen?”, she¬†quickly dismissed me by saying “oh, it’s just a T-shirt!”, but I suspect that there are many young girls out there who would not be offended in the slightest to be referred to a “drama queen” or “gold digger” these days: the pervasive media culture surrounding them makes them think that somehow these are normal girls’ attributes (along with being shopping/fashion/make-up fanatic).

The trouble with this type of marketing is that it is a lazy, unimaginative way to push girls into a corner.

Fortunately, they are plenty of ethical businesses fighting back this trend and new companies producing clever and¬†witty¬†T-shirts are popping up all the time: so let’s make sure to give these girls an alternative and I am¬†confident it will be soon out of trend to wear¬† “I am a princess” shirts!

I made a few visual slides¬†regarding this point, I would love to see them¬†circulating far & wide on the web. I’ll post them today, your job is to pass them around! ūüôā

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Double standards in society and media: feminist parody of Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” inappropriate?

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Today I found an interesting article in The Independent, regarding a feminist remake-parody of Robin Thicke’s worldwide hit song “Blurred Lines”: the video/song parody was¬†apparently removed from You Tube for being considered “inappropriate”!

I had a good look at both videos to see what the fuss was about and couldn’t detect anything remotely inappropriate in the parody video, while I could see why Thicke’s video and lyric have been criticised so much by various¬†feminists and women advocates. The parody is quite¬†hilarious but I would not¬†define it¬†inappropriate in the slightest.

Indeed if you watch both videos you’ll agree with me that the reaction to the parody¬†was simply unjustifiable – and I assume this is why You Tube has reactivated the video¬†after the producers appealed against the removal: it was nothing else than a “reversal of roles” done in a humoristic way: how can anyone find anything offensive in that?

Well…I guess this is¬†a brilliant example of the rampant double standard we have in our culture and media: the definition¬†of “inappropriate representation” varies according to conformity or non-conformity to society widely¬†accepted¬†sex roles.