Thursday, June 26, 2008

This Morning on WPR: The Lolita Effect

This has been a topic I've explored in both my Psychology classes and Social Psychology classes - the media's damaging effect on the psychological and physical well-being of young girls. I first became interested in the topic as an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. I was fortunate to see Jean Kilbourne, Naomi Woolf and Mary Pipher as a young college student. These women were very influential in transforming the way I viewed the media. Ever since, I've been very interested in media literacy.

As a beginning educator in Viroqua, I had my students read an article from Ms. Magazine on the issue of media literacy and body image. If I recall correctly, the title was "How to Get a Guy, Drop Twenty Pounds and Lose Your Self-Esteem." It was very profound and also very funny.

I also had my kids read a chapter from Kilbourne's Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising . The chapter was "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." After kids read the chapter, I would have them break into five groups. Each group was responsible for answering two questions. After five to ten minutes, each group would share their responses with the rest of the class. These are the questions I asked the kids to discuss:

1. How do advertisers take advantage of the insecurities of young women?
2. Does the process of socialization affect all girls the same? Explain.
3. How are the problems of boys and girls the same?
4. How are advertisements "toxic" for young girls?
5. What affect do advertisements have on girls' body image? (What are the statistics?)
6. Discuss the results of the Figi study.
7. What does "the more you subtract, the more you add" mean?
8. How are young girls and boys stereotyped in advertising?
9. How do advertisements silence and trivialize girls and women?
10. How does the media send contradictory messages to girls and women about sexuality? What are those messages?

As a large group, answer:
What advice does the author offer young people on this subject?

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I haven't had a chance to incorporate these lessons in my Psychology classes in quite some time. I know however, many girls are interested in this issue. For that reason, I decided to include this post in my blog. I hope it is of use to someone!

If you are interested in listening to the program, click the link below:

Additional Resources, Lesson Plans and related Activities:
Wonderful Blog pertaining to the issue (Many useful resources including videos):
Jean Kilbourne's site:
Reviving Ophelia Resources:
Study Guide: Rethinking Schools Article and Teaching Suggestions:
Rethinking Schools - List of Media Links:
Project Ideas:
APA Article (Data pertaining to the damaging effects of sexualization of young girls in the media)
YouTube Videos on the topic:


polk us said...

i watch the little women moive adn it was different it was saying how guys thatare 2 and 3 year old are growing up to fast i think that with the mom that wasnt able to have all that in ther childhood that they are trying to have that for there little kids they are growing up to fast wearing makup and wearing bras at that age it not right at all i thnk that kids should be kids not just growing up to fast they will miss it they will want to go back a do things different and to the parents i think they should stop buying things like that for there little kids thats where they are getting it from

gruber w said...

I watched the 60 minutes little women video. i think the blonde lady was very RIGHT! kids these days are growing up so much faster than they should be. like the girl that was naked in the pictures in the museum... that was just shocking to me! i can't believe any mother would let their child do that at 13! it just amazes me how many sexual pictures there are of young girls and nobody does anything about it. no wonder more and more kids are becoming obese or haveing eating disorders. they are under the influence that if they dont look a certain way or act a certain way that they arn't as good as everyone else, and that is so wrong. alot of these girls are beautiful the way they are but they can't see that because of what the magazines or tv is saying.