A Call for Action: Empowering Girls in a Media-Saturated World


…If only we could change the way girls perceive and respond to media!

If we cannot change the whole system then at least we need to make sure that we CAN change girls’ awareness of the manipulation behind it…making them recognise where the oppression and manipulation are, so that maybe they won’t waste many years of their life in search for pointless ‘appearance gains’ and they will really understand the truth meaning of finding oneself, becoming the girl/woman they want to be, following their own passion and natural talent.

To do so, girls need to be put in the condition to discern hype, misconceptions and financial or ideological manipulations behind media content. Only in this way they will be using what they see in the media as an inspiration instead of an ironmaiden (as Naomi Wolf called) without getting too distracted or constricted by media and celebrities culture.

Ideally we (as girls and women) should be much more aware that there is a slow, constant and relentless brainwashing in action and the values and rules we think are natural are in reality imposed by a particular ideology and a system with financial interests behind.

Where do I start? How can I do this? Publishing my findings in academic journals will advance my career and make my research credible to the scientific community, but I doubt this will bring any actual social change…

(From post: “The starting point: Reflection on my PhD research on media and young girls”)

This blog is only the starting point of a long journey, where I will challenge myself to bring real social changes to the world of young girls, no matter the uncertainty and struggle I will have to bear in the process!

12 thoughts on “A Call for Action: Empowering Girls in a Media-Saturated World

  1. Where do I start? Social change begins an inch at a time. I once was given the answer, “It took us over 200 years to get into this condition; it may take as long or longer to get out.” But, in my opinion, in order for you to establish the validity you will eventually need to back up your logic, you must also advance your career and make your research more credible to the scientific community simultaneously as you begin your actual work.

    Your initial work can begin with as few as 5-6 young girls. You could begin by contacting a few young girls in your vicinity who would like to get together either by phone, social media or in person to discuss problems they’re presently facing as teens. Perseverance is a key to social change, along with many other small steps.

    • Judith, I love your comment, “social change begins an inch at a time.” Absolutely. My partner and I often speak about about the most important news being that which is closest to us and that which we can directly affect and receive feedback on (our friends, family, community etc). Focusing on our immediate sphere helps us feel as though we’re making visible change and creating ripples of positive thought and action.

      I feel there is real power in connecting young women and girls; providing the safe space for open discussion and authenticity, especially when there is increasing pressure to conform to the image of the ‘ideal’ (no such thing!) I’d love to see groups like this created at a ground root community level. Does anyone know of such projects? (Besides the great work of Media Savvy Girl of course!) I feel like the key with these groups would be NOT focusing on the big bad media and projecting our own ideas onto these girls, but rather refocusing on connection with one another and more importantly, ourselves. Giving girls and young women the tools and practices to cultivate self love in their lives; to stand tall and proud within their own skin; to recognise their greatness and gifts as unique individuals; empower these girls with so much confidence and love for themselves that when they receive these images from the media, they can make their own decisions. With solid foundations rooted in self love, acceptance, understanding and commitment to their own truth (based on intuition; what FEELS right), my bet would be that greater numbers of young girls and women would start rejecting these images and messages. Let’s make it happen!

  2. Absolutely Judith! My research and academic endevours such as publications, attending conferences and so on represent for me a very important aspect of what I do. I believe the new knowledge produced by research need to be peer-validated and can form the basis to inspire new forms of intervention. Let’s look at what girls do and at how they respond to media messages. Every girl is different, every context is different: I think it’s important to avoid generalisation and moral panic, but also provide inspiration and start building serious programs of intervention in this area.
    And yes, as you said, we should start small, working with a few girls and learn from it. My follow-up study is planning to work with some of my participants from my PhD project (from 10 to 20 selected girls) to see how adolescence has changed the way they respond and interact with representation of femininity in media and adverts: it will be a fascinating journey I am sure. It will also have an action research element built into it, to enhance girls critical skills towards femininity portrayals in media, so that it won’t be just plain collection/analysis of new data but a process of co-creative intervention to empower and inspire these girls to be all they can be. We need to do all we can to prevent them from believing in the limited, stereotypical ideals of femininity promoted by most media.
    Thank you so much for your input and apologies about the huge delay in replying: I only found out about your comment today, wrongly filtered out in the spam folder! All the best & keep in touch xX

  3. Thank you for bringing this issue more into light. How can young women like me create events in my community to spread awareness to young girls. Thank you.

  4. As the mother of an almost 13 year-old girl, I am keenly aware of the messages she is bombarded with on a daily, almost hourly basis. These girls struggle with self-esteem issues that we couldn’t have imagined at that age, and yet, these issues are timeless. Someone telling us who we should be, what we should look like, how we should think, in order to be accepted. I am so saddened to see these girls and wonder if there is anything we as parents, especially as mothers, can do to counteract the impact of the media. Definitely awareness is the key, but it is such a difficult battle to wage…

    Thank you for doing this valuable work to help our daughters.

  5. Thank you for doing this. When I watched your video I was in tears. This world is eating these girls alive. I’d love to help you if theres any way that I can. Please let me know. This world ate me alive once too, I became stronger for it, but most wont be that lucky,

  6. Ok, so where I live, some grocery stores have implemented something called “nuval”, (look it up, it’s on the web!). I love it. I am now buying healthier foods because of this “nuval” thing… Wouldn’t it be cool if there were an equivalent thing for evaluating media? “Yes honey, you can watch/read this, it has a medval of 98!). You’re not going to tell the media to change, and just giving people a theory or a guideline for media consumption is not going to work, (too much effort for most). But give them something they agree with and that is quick and easy to use… viola… Of course that would mean that someone else, has to do all the heavy lifting, but it could work…

  7. This is a beautiful idea for a blog and I love that you’re using what you learn from your research to ignite real social changes. I’m in my 30s and still struggle with body image and self-loathing. We need more people speaking up and helping lift up our young women. We need to build the foundations from younger age! Thank you for doing just that.

  8. My sister never fell to stereotypes. she likes pokemon and kittens, minecraft and barbies, pink and blue, nerf and rebelle. i once knew a boy who liked barbies. do i care? nope. just be whoever you want to be!

  9. You’re doing some amazing work and insightful evaluations of media and how it effects young girls. I appreciate your hard work, thoughtful blog posts, and unbiased presentation of facts to your readers. Thanks for an amazing blog, and I look forward to reading more, and learning how to help my young daughters navigate the wiles of media and propaganda as they grow up.

  10. People shame the people who have a “unhealthy” body that is not like the ones we see in magazines and TV shows. Other people shame the people who are focused on getting that body. I think the real key to helping young girls and older women be content with themselves is to let them be happy. They don’t need to excercise or eat less just because other people don’t like the way they look, which in turn makes them unhappy. But if looking “fit” and like a model is what you want to look like and that makes you happy, go for it. However you look, the key is feeling content, happy, and beautiful in your body and other people will see you in that way too. 🙂

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