Pre-teen and teen girls spend approximately 10 hours a day consuming media that tells them what matters most about them is how “hot” and thin they are. Three of those hours are spent on social media, a microcosm of mainstream media. Girls log on to feel connected, and log off feeling anxious, lonely, insecure. We have heard this from thousands of girls in our programming, and research backs it up.
- In a recent survey of 1,000 teens polled, the majority of girls polled view physical attractiveness as the most common trait that our society values in girls. Seventy percent of girls ages 14 to 19 say they feel judged as a sexual object in their daily life at least once in a while. (“The State of Gender Equality,” 2018)
- There was a marked increase in the number of young girls, ages 10 to 14, brought to the ER for self-harm between 2008 and 2015 (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2018).
- Eighth-grade girls who spend 10+ hours a week on social media are 56% more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who spend less time. (“National Institute on Drug Abuse”).
- Almost 1/3 of girls say they’ve engaged in cyberbullying (Teen Safe), and The Royal Society for Public Health stated that social media is “fueling a mental health crisis for girls,” inviting constant body comparison and anxiety. Parents and educators have no idea how to fix this.
- By age 17, 78% of girls dislike their bodies; and 70% of these teens are less likely to express their opinion (Dove Self-Esteem Report, 2016).
- Six out of 10 girls quit activities that they like because they don’t like how their body looks ((Dove Self-Esteem Report, 2016).
What girls need is the motivation and space to think critically about undermining media messages, understand where true self-worth comes from, and become part of the change by transforming media into a place where girls can find and create inspiring and empowering content. They need to be able to see that girls’ thoughts and contributions to the world are are more important than their clothing size or blemish-free skin. Instead of waiting for media executives to change the sexist culture all around us, we are building a movement in which girls create the culture by using their own social media, where they dominate in numbers.
After all, it’s not girls that need a makeover. It’s the media that does.