The Girl Scouts of America, Alliance for Women in Media (AWM), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and several other national organizations are united in efforts to reconcile the images of girls and women they see in the media with their own bodies. Young women face many temptations growing up in a society where media leads the race in depicting what indicates beauty, intelligence, and success. A girl can easily become negatively influenced if she is unable to decipher the difference between fiction and reality, developing low self esteem, eating disorders, and even depression. To address these issues, the organizations held a unifying “Healthy Media for Youth Summit” at the US Capitol on October 6th.
Joining the other tools and resources available to combat this problem (such as media literacy education, youth empowerment groups, and Public Service Announcement programs like the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem), the Summit explored the impact of the media on youths’, and especially girls’, self image.
The event highlighted steps parents can take to minimize the chances of their daughters being affected by media images. Many girls dream of becoming a princess or a model because that is what the media and society has deemed as an ultimate dream job for a woman. In fact, a little girl can be whatever she puts her mind to, from an astronaut to a police officer.
During the ceremony, keynote speaker Academy Award winner Geena Davis spoke about her advocacy engagements geared toward urging the film and television creators to increase the percentage of female characters and reduce gender stereotyping in media targeting children 11 and under. Davis gave an example of how one day, while watching Harry Potter with her daughter, she asked her daughter which of the characters she would like to be when she grows older.
Out of all three lead actors, Davis’s daughter instantly chose Harry, instead of his female sidekick Hermione, because she thought his powers were the coolest. This mindset is what needs to be encouraged in our nation’s daughters – to be the best, rather than the prettiest. As Davis’s advocacy continues, she will devote herself to this cause and allow little girls of all ages to have more opportunities than she was afforded in her career.
Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Alfre Woodard closed the day with a powerful declaration, inspiring women to make a difference, emphasizing the roles each and everyone in the room must play in helping young women embrace who they are and how they can achieve their dreams.
The Girl Scouts, AWM, and NAB Youth Summit was truly an inspiring event. Everyone was challenged to speak out, mentor, and make a difference. Hopefully, the Summit’s messages will resonate among all women, and the wisdom it provided will reach a wide audience.
Lucette Pierre-Louis is an Attorney and graduate from FAMU College of Law who strives to serve the public good and represent the less fortunate. In law school, Lucette earned the title of Senior Editor of the Southern Region Black Law Journal and has authored articles ranging from Abortion to Rape in Third World Countries.