I used to have a little tradition of buying a cheesy teen magazine during the first week of summer and lying on the beach reading about the perfect nail polish color, or how to make your skin appear flawless. The primary reason I enjoyed this was because I knew it was pure junk, and that most of it could not be accurate. Yet I recently began to look into how inaccurate these magazines are in portraying how teenage girls are and should be, while also considering the effects on the self-esteem of many readers. Because even I, who laughed at most of the spreads on the glossy pages, felt my happiness with my body disintegrate a bit each time I picked up one of those magazines.
A few weeks ago I attended the Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College, and I decided that I should focus on body image and the media’s effects on the minds and bodies of young girls. I learned so much from all the girls I talked to at the program, from the classes and workshops I participated in, and from all the research I conducted on the subject. There is just so much to say about the issue of magazines and media and their effects on teenage girls’ perception of themselves. One portion of my group’s project included a video in which we interviewed many girls participating in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute. I hope you watch this video and spread the message!
I love the Women’s Media Center. If you’ve never heard of them, you should probably check them out immediately because they’re doing some really wonderful work making women more visible and powerful in the media. To learn more about what they do, click here or read my interview with Carol Jenkins, the WMC’s founding President, here. The video I want to feature today, though, is from when the WMC went to the Sundance Film Festival to raise awareness about gender disparity in filmmaking. Good stuff.
Over the past few weeks, the story of a Canadian couple who is keeping the gender of their baby, named Storm, a secret, has made headlines. Their reasoning seems to be that they want to allow their child to choose his/her own gender. They want to help him/her avoid feeling trapped by gender and to give him/her more freedom to express himself/herself. Of course, controversy ensued, even resulting in a segment on the Today show.
Saturday Vids: I Am This Land Video Contest Winner
I’m a little late on this, but a while back I was one of the judges for the I Am This Land video contest on diversity. The winner was recently announced, and I’m happy to report that the video “Role Call” was the winner. A little bit about the winning video:
“Role Call” is a fun and thought-provoking video made by a team of students and alumni at Flushing International High School (FIHS) in Queens, New York. The MTV-style video – of a student in class daydreaming about gender, cultural expression, and racial stereotypes – won the judges over.
“The video was created in response to several incidents of violence in our school, and our desire to use media to promote respect and tolerance in our school and beyond,” said teacher Dillon Paul. “Our students come from approximately 40 different countries and speak 20 different languages. Like most high schools, however, cultural differences, sexual and gender identity can be sources of discomfort and fear, leading to bigotry, bullying and violence.” From Jean Franco Vergaray Franco (a student, and Lead Director and Editor on the film), “That we could portray one person being all these different personalities, all these different identities, was just a way to say, diversity is okay. People shouldn’t be labeled.”
As many of you, as frequenters of the Internet, probably know, in 2007 young adult author John Green and his brother, an environmental blogger named Hank Green, started a video blog called Brotherhood 2.0. They quickly developed a kickass community of followers, who grew to be called Nerdfighters, who fight against WorldSuck. Fighting against WorldSuck- all of the non-awesomeness in the world- is what we as activists do best. The two brothers always advocate equality of the sexes, respect for different sexual orientations, respect for the environment, and social awareness in their videos. Here are two of my favorites that most strongly relate to these important messages, one about girls not acting dumb to get guys, and another against homophobia.