Pre-teen and teen girls spend approximately 10 hours a day consuming media insisting that what matters most is how “hot” and thin they are. Three of those hours are spent on social media, a microcosm of mainstream media. While social media in short doses can make girls feel more connected, these apps often leave girls feeling anxious, lonely, and more insecure.
- Between ages 8 and 14, girls’ confidence levels drop by 30%. (Ypulse Survey, 2018) Girls need confidence to take healthy risks – including using their voice to say “no,” standing up for what they believe in, taking care of their health and applying for leadership roles.
- Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70% in the past 25 years; Social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep.
- Social media hurts girls more than boys (2019)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.