How girls are represented in the media

Learn about: How girls are represented in the media from Jean Kilbourne, EdD,...
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How girls are represented in the media

Advertising has a tremendous impact on our girls, on their sense of themselves, on their self esteem, but also on their aspirations of what they imagine that they might do or become. There's a wonderful film called Misrepresentation which talks about how the images of women in the media really limit women's sense of efficacy, women's sense of agency, women's sense of what might be possible for them career wise, in politics, in all kinds of ways. The film says you can't be what you can't see and what happens is not only that girls get very limited models of what they should be, based on sexiness and attractiveness, but they don't see a whole range of different kinds of role models of women who are successful in many other spheres than modelling, let's say. or acting. And they don't get to see that, so it makes it much more difficult for them to imagine it. For example, about 47% of the population of females in America is over 40. But only 27% of women on television are over 40. The vast majority of women on television are between the ages of 20 and 30 so it's as if when women get to be a certain age, they simply disappear or they should disappear. And this is the message that our girls get as they're watching. You know, that this - that there's no future, really, to aspire to except to be a very sexy, hot young number right now, and that's very, very limiting.

Learn about: How girls are represented in the media from Jean Kilbourne, EdD,...


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Jean Kilbourne, EdD

Author & Social Theorist

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses...

She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has served as an advisor to the Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

According to Susan Faludi, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture —advertising. We owe her a great debt.” A member of the Italian Parliament said, “Hearing Jean Kilbourne is a profound experience. Audiences leave her feeling that they have heard much more than another lecture, for she teaches them to see themselves and their world differently.”

She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. A more unusual tribute was paid when an all-female rock group in Canada named itself Kilbourne in her honor.

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