By Teen Voices guest blogger Stephanie Harig
Stephanie Harig is an intern at Girl Scouts of the USA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office.
Every day we are bombarded by unhealthy media images of girls and women. Even though we know that these depictions are not based in reality, many of us still define our self-worth by how we measure up to them.
A 2010 survey by the Girl Scout Research Institute found that 60 percent of girls compare their bodies to fashion models and 47 percent say fashion models give them a body to strive for. And only 46 percent of girls believe that the fashion industry does a good job of representing people of all races and ethnicities.
The problem is not only what girls think – it’s also what they do. The same survey found that more than half of girls admit to going on a diet to try to lose weight and 31 percent admit to starving themselves or refusing to eat. Moreover, 42 percent of girls say they know someone their age who has forced themselves to throw up after eating, while 37 percent know someone who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
We are smart and powerful, but there is no doubt that unhealthy images negatively influence our body image and self-esteem. So is there anything we can do about it?
The answer is YES!
Girl Scouts is taking steps to ensure that healthier media images of girls and women become a reality. First, our newest program, It’s Your Story, Tell It!, will be released this winter. It will empower girls to use the media as an agent of change and vehicle for self-expression, effectively helping them build their self-esteem.
Girl Scouts also supports The Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), which was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The bill addresses unhealthy media images of girls and women through three avenues:
- grants to support media literacy programs;
- research on how depictions of women and girls in the media affect the health of youth;
- and, the creation of a National Taskforce on Women and Girls in the Media.
Current media images of girls and women set unrealistic standards that distract us from what is important and make it harder to believe in ourselves. This is not the reality in which we should have to live! The Healthy Media for Youth Act is a step toward a new, girl-positive reality!
Imagine a world full of healthy media images of women and girls. Positive images of girls and women in the media would foster self-esteem, positive body image, and healthy relationships. Girl Scouts further encourages the media to highlight strong female role models, more women in leadership roles, and body type, racial, and ethnic diversity.
If this is the world you want to see, then TAKE ACTION! Join Girl Scouts as we advocate for healthier media images. Visit www.girlscouts4girls.org and send a letter of support for the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925) to your Member of Congress. By using our GIRL POWER we can change our reality!