Our biggest goals for MEDIAGIRLS participants is that they understand their inherent self-worth and speak up for what they believe in. So you can imagine how excited we were to read the responses of our Youth Advisory Board, comprised of pre-teen and teen girls, to this question: “What one change do you most want to see in 2019 to improve lives for girls and women?” Below are their insights. Our own wish is to see today’s leaders fighting for this list of beyond reasonable demands while today’s girls prepare themselves to take over the leadership reins in the near future.
Olivia, age 15: I hope that in 2019, girls and women will be able to find the courage to accept when a relationship is abusive and to then end it quickly. I feel that a lot of misplaced pressure is put on people, more specifically women, to stay with their partners despite mental and physical abuse, as well as a pressure to “fix” their partner’s issues. Women are often seen as motherly figures whose jobs are to care for everyone around her, including her partner. However, we should all put our own health and safety before anyone else’s. If a person is abusive, it is never their partner’s job to stick with them and help them through it if it is harming themselves. This misplaced pressure will hopefully be lightened in 2019. For this to get better, society must expand its view of women as motherly figures and, instead, see them first as a person. This issue will not get better until all people get a quality education at an early age and grow the capacity for empathy. Women must feel supported by others so that they may build the courage to end an abusive relationship.
Lehna, age 11: I want women to be comfortable for women to be who they are and go after what they want. I want this because girls spend their time looking in the mirror and judging themselves when they really should be loving themselves.
Sarah, age 13: I want to see more women standing up for themselves! I think, as women, we are told to just let things happen. But that shouldn’t be the case. We should feel confident to say, “no, that’s not right.” If women felt more comfortable standing up for themselves, this would be a big step in the right direction.
Nicole, age 12: I want more companies to realize that there isn’t a perfect body shape. Nobody is perfect, everyone is unique. More ads should start including women of all shapes, sizes, and all different races, and religions, as well as including them in an empowering way. More movies should include strong and relatable women and more TV shows should as well. I want to see this change because more girls all over the world deserved to feel empowered for who they are and what they believe.
Amari, age 12: For 2019 I’d like to see less photoshop used in magazines, ads, posters, billboards, etc. Seeing these fake and distorted images of celebrities (many of whom have also had plastic surgeries) is one of the largest contributing factors to image insecurities in girls and young women. Now more than ever, women are exposed to these kinds of media. I think it would be really beneficial to girls around the world if photoshop wasn’t used in those pictures. Additionally, it would be really helpful to have more models of all different body shapes and sizes. The only models we ever really see are super skinny or have extremely thin waists. Thankfully, some companies are already starting to use less extreme editing and I think we’re moving in a progressive direction. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Annika, age 12: I want girls to be able to like girls and not be judged on it. I am bisexual and people make fun of me about it a lot. I have only had one major crush on a girl, but still, people seem to think of me as a different species entirely. I know that there are some people who identify fully as lesbian or gay etc. but it doesn’t change the fact that I know how it feels and that it sucks to be judged on whom you love. In 2019, I wish for myself and all the other girls (boys, and anyone in between) to not fear being themselves and loving whomever they wish. And for the world to except them.
Claire, age 13: A change in 2019 I’d like to see is more brands having a diverse set of models. This doesn’t just mean different races and body types, but women of different ages, women with disabilities, etc. I’ve been a big fan of Aerie and their diversifying of their models. I strongly hope many more companies follow the example and don’t act like Victoria’s Secret.