Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Join us for our upcoming trainings!

Have you noticed the media lately? On internet, TV, and magazines, girls and women are reduced to body parts, criticized for their looks, and encouraged to work on their physique rather than their minds. Girlfighting is showcased on nearly every channel and hyper-sexuality is thrust upon girls at younger and younger ages.

Of course, we have all noticed the media; it permeates our everyday lives even as adults. Rather than concede to the negative messages that we all are subjected to, why not develop skills to deconstruct, analyze and confront the culture itself?

As a colleague in the struggle to create more supportive environments for girls to thrive, I want to invite you to attend Cultivating Hardiness Zones and Becoming a Muse, two back-to-back strength-based trainings for adults working with girls. Developed by Dr. Mary Madden and myself, Cultivating Hardiness Zones and Becoming a Muse are designed to help you incorporate the latest research on girls' development into work you're already doing with girls. This isn't a training that stresses the inner girl or works to improve "self-esteem," but rather focuses on providing girls with an environment that's conducive to learning and growing despite cultural messages and stereotypes.

Our two upcoming trainings are:

March 15th and 16th, 2010
University of New England, Portland, ME
Registration fee for both days is $295 by March 1st; $320 afterward.
Registration for one day is $175.00 before March 1st; $190 afterward.
Some partial scholarships are available.


April 27th and 28th, 2010
Simmons College, Boston, MA
Registration fee for both days is $295 by April 13th; $320 afterward.
Registration for one day is $175.00 before April 13th; $190 afterward.
Some partial scholarships are available.

Registered groups of three or more will receive a 15% discount.

At this training, you'll learn concrete strategies to:
  • Help girls and women build meaningful connections;
  • Show girls how to find and use the resources they need to thrive; and,
  • Tap into girls' energy and creativity and inspire them to make the world one which values them for who they are, not how they look!

Who should attend these trainings? Teachers, guidance counselors, school administrators, health service and social service providers, parents and guardians, and anyone who wants to learn more effective approaches to bringing out the best in girls!

Thank you for the important role you play in girls’ lives. We look forward to seeing you this spring!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are we getting under American Apparel’s, ah, skivvies?

Thanks to our sister org,, for letting us know that American Apparel has now invited men and boys to join their crazy sexist ad campaign. How’s that for a creative response to our Girlcott? Add boys and hope we go away!

It’s all pretty disingenuous, of course, given AA’s history of sexist ad campaigns targeting girls. The simple reality is that this ad campaign sits in a culture that highly sexualizes girls and women, something AA knows and takes full advantage of. So it’s no surprise that boys aren’t posting photos anywhere close to the number girls are posting. No surprise, either, that all the top vote-getters on the site are girls.

AA is capitalizing on the lowest common denominator marketing strategy to make a buck: selling sex and sexism. Are we supposed to believe that an equal opportunity invite to sexualize boys too makes this ad campaign okay? Please.

Tell American Apparel that objectifying bodies – any body--and commodifying sex to sell their products is not okay.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Response to the Kaiser Report on Teens & Media

On January 20, 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. The tagline: “Daily media use among children and teens up dramatically from five years.”

KFF explains that while this age group already devotes over 53 hours a week on “entertainment media,” the use of multiple media outlets at the same time – such as listening to music while surfing the web – exacerbate this daily intake of media content. Upon comparing 2009 findings to those of their 2004 Generation M2 report, the report authors claim that children and teens have gained an additional hour and seventeen minutes of daily media exposure. They attribute a number of influences to this increase, such as the popularity of “mobile media,” which drives the accessibility of media. Not surprisingly, three-quarters of 8 to 18-year-olds say that their media use is unmonitored by parents and guardians, and according to the KFF report, this unbridled flow of information is taking its toll on kids. The authors assert that “heavy media users” suffer from poor grades in comparison to “light media users.”

At Hardy Girls Healthy Women (HGHW), we pose that the wellbeing of children and youth are affected far beyond their performance in school. We argue that media use among 8 to 18-year-olds, as reported by KFF, sheds light on the venues where girls and boys are gathering media messages, and subsequently, where they are learning negative gender stereotypes.

Let’s take a look at social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, where media bombardment is commonplace. Advertisements featured on these sites are often marketed to a specific audience, making their impact even more pinpointed and dangerous. A middle-school aged girl may encounter, for instance, a plethora of ads suggesting weight loss solutions as the secret to happiness. A high-school boy may alternatively be offered games that appeal to his heightened online presence but that also portray men as violent and malicious members of society. Both scenarios show that gender norms are being delivered to girls and boys across the media spectrum.

Multi-tasking with media-based products threatens children and teens even further, as their ability to deconstruct images and content are squandered by repeating and overlapping messages. For example, while perusing her Facebook profile, a teenage girl comes in contact with numerous advertisements, including those that promote body augmentation and negative body image. Meanwhile, the lyrics of a familiar pop song playing on her computer reiterate the degradation of women’s bodies. The message from both the song and the advertisement are not only common but normalized features in this young girl’s life, and without the skill set needed to tackle multiple media outlets, these messages continue to guide her self-perception.

While exposure to the media carries a number of drawbacks, particularly for children and teenage consumers, the messages can be broken down. Cultivating media literacy among the younger generation is one such way to empower children and teens. Lyn Mikel Brown, co-founder of HGHW, along with her colleagues, argue that by fostering such a analytical eye, youth become active objectors to the mainstream stereotypes and negative portrayals of girls and boys.

To learn more about media literacy, please join us for our spring trainings in Portland and Boston. You can sign up online or by phone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Petition Link for American Apparel Hits Rock "Bottom"

Because the petition we hosted on has received such a strong response from our friends around the US and internationally, we've moved the petition to in order to allow those not living in the US to sign on their support. Please post far and wide - together we can make a difference in the way that American Apparel and other companies market to girls!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

American Apparel Hits Rock “Bottom”

American Apparel has such a history of sexist ad campaigns that we’ve often wondered if their marketing team is made up of teenage boys lacking creativity and common sense. But their latest endeavor takes the cake. American Apparel is looking for the best bottom in the world to be the "face" of their new ad campaign. They're inviting girls to upload pictures of their butts to the website (wearing AA underwear or body suits, of course) and then asking people to judge the submissions with a score of 1-5 and the option to add snarky comments. It’s low budget and lowbrow. For girls, however, it’s high stakes.

Here's their invitation: "Confident about the junk in your trunk? Show us your assets! Post a photo of your booty's best side for judgment. We're looking for a brand new bum (the best in the world!) to be the new "face" for our always expanding intimates and briefs lines. The winners will be flown to LA, photographed and featured online. Send in a close-up photo of your backside wearing American Apparel panties, bodysuits or briefs for consideration and vote for your personal favorites."

Geez, American Apparel, try listening to girls instead of objectifying them. As Thalia, age 19, says, “You don't need to exploit us to benefit your company. Someone that is a CEO should have more common sense, don't you think?”

We do.

So, here’s our reply – grow up and get someone on your marketing team who’s got some brain cells and some principles. Sign our letter to AA’s CEO and Corporate Relations people to add your name to the protest.

Joseph Teklits and Jean Fontana, Corporate Relations
Dov Charney, CEO
747 Warehouse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Dear American Apparel:

The sexualization of women and porn-inspired media have infiltrated the everyday culture of the youngest girls. According to the 2007 APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in Media, the negative impact on girls and women is indisputable: the sexualization and objectification of girls and women in media wreak havoc on our psychological, emotional, cognitive and relational lives.

Your recent campaign is a perfect example of the insidious ways marketers and media promote sexualization and body obsession as “girl power.” American Apparel is directly and unconscionably undermining girls’ healthy development by equating confidence with looking sexy, winning with being judged on their appearance, and personal value with 15 seconds of fame. The objectification of girls’ and women’s bodies is a real concern in a country where 1 in 4 women is a victim of violence, and sexual harassment is rampant. This ad campaign invites girls to self-objectify, inviting girls to post pictures of just one body part, and inviting others to comment and rate it is demeaning and dangerous.

By launching this campaign at a time when sexting is in the headline news, American Apparel is literally placing girls in jeopardy of prosecution by inviting them to post highly sexualized images of themselves online.

Don’t insult us with the usual defense: this is not real girl power; this is not just girls feeling good, making choices or feeling confident in their bodies. American Apparel is selling girls for parts, and we’re not buying.

Add your name to the letter today!

Now, consider this:

A 3-pack of underwear from American Apparel costs $24.

We're willing to bet that not only will you probably find a better deal elsewhere, but you'll sleep better having purchased your skivvies somewhere else, too. And, if you want to sleep really well:

Here's what Hardy Girls could do with that $24:
Encourage girls to see the world of options that exists for them without having to show their underwear.

Please, consider investing your $24 in girls, with a gift to Hardy Girls Healthy Women.

We promise we won't sexualize, objectify, or otherwise demean your sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, or friends. In fact, we will work toward a better world for all, one where women are valued more for their beliefs and brains than they are their butts.

Donate $24 to Hardy Girls today and see the returns in a better world for girls.

Support HGHW