The Misrepresentation of Girls in the Media National Coalition of Girls’ Schools June 27, 2012...

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The Misrepresentation of Girls in the Media

National Coalition of Girls Schools June 27, 2012Dallas, TX

Girl Scout Research Institute1Listens to what girls are sayingStudies the girl perspective on critical issuesBrings research findings to important adults in girls livesEvaluates the Girl Scout Leadership ExperienceTranslates findings into program and policy recommendations Establishes Girl Scouts of the USA as the leading expert on girls The Girl Scout Research Institute: 2

Girl Scout Research Institute:A Decade of Findings

Who are girls today?

What are the most up-to-date Girl Scout Research Institute findings on the impact of all forms of media on girls?

Beauty Redefined Whos That Girl? Image and Social Media Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV

How does media impact a girls:Sense of selfIdentity constructionRelationshipsEating and health behaviorsFuture aspirations

4.What is Girl Scouts doing to minimize the negative impact of media on girls?

5.How can adults model healthy media consumption?Presentation Roadmap4

Who are girls today?

Physical: body growth and sexual maturation

Cognitive: acquisition of critical-thinking skills and information about the world

Emotional: social and psychological development and an understanding about family, peers, gender, identity, and self

Cognitive and physical development have accelerated, while emotional development has not, leaving 8- to 12-year-old girls with new stress and tension.

Its not where I am, its who Im with. girl, 16

Safety: Its EmotionalThe things that girls ages 817 worry the most about are being teased or made fun of, being gossiped about, and being called names. 46% of girls define safety as not having their feelings hurt.34% of girls only feel somewhat safe emotionally.68% of girls have had a negative experience on a social networking sitefor instance, being gossiped about or being bullied.

What do girls care about? Emotional Health and Safety 6Girls are concerned about being teased, bullied, threatened, or having feelings hurt while:

Spending time with peers (38%) Speaking or participating in class (38%) Participating in groups (34%) Trying new things (30%)

Girls who do not feel safe are more likely to:

Have trouble paying attention in schoolHave trouble making decisionsOften feel sad and unhappyOften feel there is no one to talk to

I have insecurities; when I feel insecure, I dont feel safe. girl, 15

For girls, being healthy is about:

Emotional and physical well-being

Feeling good about oneself, being supported, and appearing normal

Health is about your friendships with people and how social you are. teen girl

I want to be someone who is just in the middle. These people look happy and normal and I want that experience. preteen girl

Health: Its HolisticGirls are more stressed than boys about absolutely everything.

What do girls worry about?

Nine in ten girls say the fashion industry (89%) and/or the media (88%) place(s) a lot of pressure on teenage girls to be thin.

65% of girls think the body image represented by the fashion industry is too skinny; 63% think it is unrealistic; and 47% think it is unhealthy. More than a quarter (28%) say it looks sick. 59% of girls say that the fashion industry makes them feel fat.

What is the most up-to-date research on girls and media?The Impact of Traditional Media

Girls attribute the pressure to be thin to media and the fashion industry.

Three in four girls (75%) say that fashion is really important to them.

48% wish they were as skinny as the models in fashion magazines.

47% say fashion magazines give them a body image to strive for.

Girls Love/Hate Relationship with Fashion

Girls want fashion to project more real images75%say they would rather see real or natural photos of models than touched-up, air-brushed photossay they would be more likely to buy clothes seen on real-size models than on super-skinny modelsVersus81%Girl Scouts Body Image Report12Lied to appear more experienced 44%No significant differences

Lied to protect reputation 39%No significant differences

Lied to appear cooler 39%44% 15-18 vs. 35% 19-2245% virgins vs. 36% sexually-experiencedGirls are watching reality TV. Almost half of girls ages 1117 watch it regularly.

Girls who view reality TV regularly are more focused on the value of physical appearance.

More reality TV viewers think that a girls value is based on how she looks and 72% say they spend a lot of time on physical appearance, compared to 42% of non-viewers.

Reality TV13Girls claim that reality TV often pits girls against one another.Girls who watch a lot of reality TV are more likely to:Think girls often have to compete for a guys attentionSay its hard for them to trust other girlsThink its in girls nature to be catty and competitive with one anotherBe happier when theyre dating someone Think that girls expect more out of romantic relationships than do boys

Girls are highly susceptible to reality TVs portrayal of relationships

14Girls who watch reality TV regularly are more likely to think:Sometimes you have to lie to get what you wantBeing mean earns you more respect than being niceYou have to be mean to others to get what you wantand how the world works in general15Behind the Scenes:Girls and Reality TV

1674% of girls agree that most girls their age use social networking sites (SNS) to make themselves look cooler than they are.

Girls represent themselves as more well-rounded in person than they do online.

Girls downplay several positive characteristics of themselves online, like their intelligence and efforts to be a good influence. Online they focus on things like being fun and funny.

Girls with low self-esteem are more likely to claim their online image is sexy or crazy. They are also more likely to admit their online images do not match their in-person selves.

Social Networking:Risks and Opportunities

17Many girls admit that the positive image they portray in person is NOT what comes across on their social networking profiles

Image portrayed in personImage portrayed via SNS18Many girls are concerned about the potentially negative consequences of their online behavior and content

% of teens who are at least somewhat concerned aboutPhotos or info unknowingly ending up onlineSomeone hacking into their social networkSomeone using photos/info undesirablySomeone causing them physical harmMissed job opportunitiesGetting in trouble with parents/teachersFriends/family losing respect for themNot getting accepted into choice college646157484240403968% of girls have had a negative SNS experience28%21%20%13%10%Had someone post photos or personal info that they didnt want postedHad someone hack into their SNS without permissionHave been bullied over SNSLost a friend because of something posted via SNSFelt concerned for their safety based on SNS posts41%36%Had someone gossip about them via SNSFelt ashamed, embarrassed, or emotionally hurt by something on an SNS20Opportunities: The upsides to social networking include better relationships and connections to causes girls care about

56% of girls agree that social networking sites help them feel closer and more connected to their friends.

52% have gotten involved in causes they care about through a social networking site.

44% have posted links, articles, or other information on a social networking site to raise funds for a cause or organization they care about.

41% have stood up for someone being threatened, harassed, or bullied on a social networking site.

21How does all this impact girls? Cognitive and Emotional DevelopmentA focus on appearance and comparing ones body to cultural ideals limits girls abilities to focus and concentrate on other things.

Mental and Physical HealthTrying to achieve cultural ideals can lead girls to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression.

Attitudes and BeliefsCultural ideals also impact how girls conceptualize femininity, sexuality, leadership and life aspirations, relationships, and identity. Gender stereotypes that place physical appearance at the center of a womans value can influence a girls sense of worth, achievement, and life goals.

Negative Ideals and Stereotypes Prevailing media images shape how boys and men see a womans value and worth, and instruct them on how to treat the girls and women in their lives.

Did you knowHalf of girls (49%) are concerned a lot about how they look, and 29% are concerned a lot with being overweight?

Almost half (46%) of girls report significant distress about their body size and shape?

Only 34% of girls report being very satisfied with their weight?

Perceptions of being overweight nearly double from the youngest (ages 810) to the oldest (ages 1617) girls?

Sense of Self and Identity Construction

Social Currency: Based on what they portray in their social networking profiles, girls have co-opted prevalent media messages to represent themselves: pretty, fun, and funny. Personal Brand: At a time that should be filled with self-exploration and identity formation, girls are choosing a very narrow way to describe and brand themselves to the external world.Fame Vs. Shame: At what point does the desire to be famous outweigh the desire for privacy and integrity?Perpetual Performance: Everything girls do now is recorded in real time and under immediate scruti