Category Archives: images of women in the media

Girl Scouts Is Ensuring Healthier Media for Girls!

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 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!

Teen Voices Featured in Documentary

Teen Voices is featured in this short documentary from What You Can Do! Watch and find out about ways you can get involved in changing the world for girls through media.

New Projects from Media Analyst Jean Kilbourne

By Teen Voices editorial intern Christina Loridas

How do we change the way society views women? How can women be seen as more than an underwear ad or a bedroom staple? It starts when we analyze the destructive images we see on a daily basis. Jean Kilbourne is known worldwide for her criticism of advertising and its negative images of women.  She has conducted studies on the media’s affect on eating disorders, violence, and addiction.

Kilbourne’s series Killing Us Softly, based on her lectures, looks at advertising and its destructive themes of sexism, racism, and perfection. Now, she will release a fourth installment of the series: Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women (Media Education Foundation) will be available online and in stores April 15. Can’t wait until April? Check out the Media Education Foundation’s excellent study guide to Killing Us Softly and find out more about Kilbourne’s work at

Boston Girls Express Themselves…Poetically!

By Teen Voices editorial intern Jackie Catcher

Poetically Speaking performers and Teen Voices peer leaders-in-training Anna-Cat and Kassandra

Poetically Speaking performers and Teen Voices peer leaders-in-training Anna-Cat and Kassandra

Whoever said “money makes the world go round” should have attended Poetically Speaking, where 20 teens proved there’s more to life than making bank.  The annual poetry/spoken word event, which Teen Voices presented in partnership with Emerson College, had a special theme this year: “The Value of Voice.”  Teen girls (and a couple of women) performed their original poetry to a packed house at Emerson, using four topics to guide their poems: overdraft protection, more than face value, making ‘change,’ and R.I.C.H. (Respected, Influential, Courageous and Hopeful) Girls.

Through prose and rhymes, the girls thanked the people who have supported and cared for them, discussed the meaning of real beauty, thought aloud about how to improve our world, and showed how their respect, influence, courage and hope make them some of the RICHest girls in the world.  “My outer beauty doesn’t make me successful, get it straight.  It’s my passion, drive, and determination that structure my fate.  My passion for writing is going to open my gate,” rhymed Tekeisha Meade in her poem Imagine.

Kaire greets the audience during her performance

Kaire greets the audience during her performance at Poetically Speaking

As girls danced onto the stage, host Saun Green kept everyone laughing, but these girls were also here to talk seriously about change – and we don’t mean coins.  Poet  Kaire Holman recited, “I’m here to pick up the change and advance the pace of this race, and in time, our line will be fine.  I’m that coin collector,  and I’m also their overdraft protection.”

Rather than addressing dollar value, the teens expressed voice value—the importance of amplifying their voices.  They had the audience laughing, crying, and dancing in their seats.  “Do we all need to conform?  Conform to the ideals that this thickness I got right here is wrong?  That my light brown and curly hair don’t fit their song?   Well listen —  listen carefully.  The beauty I got, you can’t even see,” wrote Natasha Gonzalez in her piece Conforming.

The Poetically Speaking performers gather after the event

The Poetically Speaking performers gather after the event

Inspiring, strong, confident, and beautiful, these young poets showed that teen girls are way more than just pretty faces – they are a social movement, a generation of strong new voices, a group that isn’t going to wait to add their voices to society — because their time is now!

Photography by Lolita Parker, Jr. of Parker Digital Imaging

Report Shows Violence Against Girls and Women On the Rise In Network TV Storylines

By Teen Voices editorial intern Ally Betker

Storylines depicting violence against females are increasing according to a report released by the Parents Television Council last month. The PTC’s report, Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend, examined female victimizations on prime time broadcast television and found that violence against women is being shown more graphically and in ways never before seen on television.

PTC President Tim Winter said, “…by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency, or as a trivial, even humorous matter, the broadcast networks may ultimately be contributing to a desensitized atmosphere in which people view aggression and violence directed at women as normative, even acceptable.”

The report found that there was a significant increase in all forms of female victimization: an increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims; in the use of female victimization as a punch line in comedy series; and in the depiction of intimate partner violence.

Some of the report’s major findings include:

  • Every network but ABC demonstrated a significant increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women between 2004 and 2009.
  • Although female victims were primarily of adult age, collectively, there was a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims across all networks from 2004 to 2009
  • Fox stood out for using violence against women as a punch line in its comedies — in particular Family Guy and American Dad — trivializing the gravity of the issue of violence against women.

PTC Director of Communications and Public Education Melissa Henson said, “We all must pay attention to the fact that this is a problem in our society. Children are influenced by what they see on TV and that certainly includes media violence.”

To read more about the Parent Television Council’s report, click here, and visit for more articles on women and the media.

Glamour Magazine Highlights Curvier Models

By Teen Voices editorial intern Ally Betker

The November issue of Glamour includes a spread titled “Supermodels Who Aren’t Superthin,” showcasing “plus-size” women who proudly bare it all. This article is part of Glamour’s body image revolution that Teen Voices tweeted about back in September.

Glamour’s efforts to highlight “plus-size” models started when they ran a picture of 21-year-old model Lizzi Miller in a story about feeling good in your own skin. Positive responses flooded in, with readers clamoring for more images of natural-looking women like Miller.

Glamour’s highlighting of models who maintain a healthier weight than the norm has helped spark a conversation about what “plus-size” really means. The modeling industry calls anyone over a size six plus size, but the average American woman wears sizes 12-14. Should magazines turn their focus to this size since it represents the majority of their audience? Or would this just move the pressure to naturally thin girls and make them feel negative about their body type instead?

Glamour says that every body size, shape, and color should and will be represented in its pages. Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive writes, “Turning the tables so we can bash one type instead of another isn’t the answer. Celebrating the fact that we’re all born different is.”

Check out the rest of Leive’s blog post here and visit for more empowering ideas about accepting yourself!

Love Yourself as You Are… Unless We Think You Look Chubby?

Teen Voices intern Courtney Shane MacNealy

Last month, Self magazine featured an interview with pop singer Kelly Clarkson, who has recently been facing tabloid criticism for her supposed weight gain. In the article, Kelly radiates confidence, saying, “When people talk about my weight, I’m like, ‘You seem to have a problem with it; I don’t. I’m fine!’ I’m never trying to lose weight–or gain it. I’m just being!” While Kelly is comfortable with her size, apparently Self‘s editors are not–the magazine cover featured a doctored image of a drastically slimmed-down Kelly.

Check out Jezebel to see the real Kelly and the edited photo.

Unfortunately, we are used to seeing heavily edited or Photoshopped images of fashion models in ads–but we expect more from a magazine like Self, which focuses on healthy living and gives women fitness and nutrition advice. We want to see a happy, natural-looking woman on the cover, not a teeny-tiny model. Editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger addresses the controversy on her blog, stating, “Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best.” Hey, Self! Skinnier isn’t always better. Lucy also writes, “Self tells women, ‘Love yourself as you are and reach your goals.’” Yet by heavily editing Kelly’s cover photo to make her look skinnier, Self certainly doesn’t seem to love her as she is!

Read Lucy’s blog posts on the topic here and here.

Lucy says that magazine covers should “inspire us to be our best.” But if magazines continue to show us altered pictures, women are going to aspire to unrealistic, unattainable ideals, and we will never be satisfied with our own bodies. It seems that Lucy herself is searching for that unrealistic image. She says, “When I ran the marathon five years ago, I was so proud of myself for completing it in under five hours and not walking a single step. But my hips looked big in some of the photos (I was heavier then), so when I wanted to put one of them on the editor’s letter in Self, I asked the art department to shave off a little. I am confident in my body, proud of what it can accomplish, but it just didn’t look the way I wanted in every picture.”

Lucy’s message is contradictory: she claims she is confident, and yet she is not confident enough to publish an unedited photo of herself.

We need to embrace our bodies’ unique shapes and all the wonderful things they allow us to do, from playing an instrument to running 26.2 miles. We applaud Kelly Clarkson for loving her body, and hope we can soon see the real Kelly on a magazine cover.

TEEN VOICES BLOG to the rescue!

By: Jocelyn Perez

The blogs and websites of magazines like Seventeen, People, and CosmoGirl can make a smart girl want to______.This is when blogging hits the spot.

What kind of world do we live in? Everybody is so caught up in the idea of weight, makeup, boys, celebrities and other useless things teens shouldn’t be worrying about. We should be focusing on our education and learning about the world. We could contribute to our society instead of supporting the ideas the media puts out to make us feel bad about ourselves and the way that we look.

Even though we may not know it, every time we look at that “perfect” girl or that “perfect” couple, it eats away at our self-esteem little by little.  I believe this is what makes us think we aren’t beautiful and that we have to change the way we look.

It isn’t our fault society is caught up in artificial thoughts and we shouldn’t have to pay the price. The media makes you think that you should look a certain way so you can buy products to “help you.” UGH! Finally, we have TEEN VOICES BLOG to the rescue because this stuff is ridiculous.

Teen Voices is a teen magazine but not just ANOTHER teen magazine. This magazine is written by teen girls and is different because it focuses on real teen issues and not on celebrities which have nothing to do with us. Teen Voices Blog will tackle and pick at the important things in life and real teen girl issues. This would be issues like: teen drug use, teen plastic surgery, GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) information, school budget cuts, sexual abuse, teen dating violence, body image problems and other stories to help you grow as a person and prepare you to become a strong, young woman.

Feel free to write us about anything and everything you think about our blog posts because what really matters is what YOU have to say. Leave a comment :)