Introduction

Recent research shows serious consequences associated with sexualized media images. APA has long been involved in issues related to the impact of media content on children.

From July 12-16, APA will recognize Healthy Media for Youth Week (HMY), which will feature activities, programs and learning opportunities spearheaded by the APA Public Interest Directorate to draw attention to ways in which psychological research has substantiated the tremendous impact that media has on our youth.

Urge your Congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925). 

Sexualized media images

Virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence of the sexualization of women, and research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women:

  • eating disorders,

  • low self-esteem, and

  • depression or depressed mood.

Solutions

  • Parental Involvement
    Parents can help by monitoring and limiting children’s media use (i.e., TV, Internet, and video games); talking with their children; questioning their choices; encouraging healthy activities; and modeling positive media use and buying behavior.

  • Legislation
    APA initiated legislation, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925) to increase research, youth empowerment and media literacy programs, and create a Federal Communications Commission task force to help curb this serious issue. We urge you to make a difference by asking your representative to co-sponsor this legislation.

Schedule

I. Monday: The issue
Are media images of girls these days too sexy?

  • Understand the issue - Sexualization of girls report

  • Take action - Action alert

  • Parental tip

II. Tuesday: The legislation
Are too-sexy images of girls and women bad for boys and men?  What can boys and men do to promote more positive images?

  • Call your representative today

  • Short bill summary

  • Parental tip

III. Wednesday: The impact
How do you feel when you see sexualized media images?

  • Understand the impact - Sexualization of girls talking points

  • Take action-Action Alert

  • Parental tip

IV. Thursday: The resources
What resources does your community have that support youth empowerment and media literacy?

  • Additional resources - Sexualization of girls tip sheets

  • Take action - Action alert

  • Parental tip

V. Friday: Make a change
What can we all do to promote media that is healthier and more positive for everyone?

  • Write your representative today - Action alert

  • Parental tip

  • Save the date - October 2010 Event in New York 

Monday: The issue

Are media images of girls these days too sexy?

Urge your congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925).

Understand the issue

Check out APA’s 2007 report on the sexualization of girls.

Take action

APA initiated legislation, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), to increase research, youth empowerment and media literacy programs, and create a Federal Communications Commission task force to help curb this serious issue. We urge you to make a difference by asking your representative to co-sponsor this legislation.

Parental tip

Encourage your child to be an advocate. Research the name of your U.S. representative in Congress.

Tuesday: The legislation

Are too-sexy images of girls and women bad for boys and men?  What can boys and men do to promote more positive images?

Urge your Congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925). 

Call your representative today

APA initiated the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925) legislation to:

  • Expand research on how depictions of girls and women in the media affect youth in childhood development; impact boys and girls; affect academic performance; and impact diverse racial and ethnic groups of various ages. The legislation would also support research on the impact of parental involvement on their children’s interaction with the media.

  • Increase the number of youth empowerment groups to encourage extracurricular activities and develop self esteem.

  • Increase the number of media literacy programs to educate youth on how to apply critical thinking skills when consuming media images and messages.

  • Create a Federal Communications Commission task force to help curb this serious issue.

We urge you to make a difference by asking your representative to co-sponsor this legislation. Call your representative today to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925).

Parental tip

If you don’t like a TV show, musician, movie, pair of jeans, doll, etc., say why. Explain to your child why you don’t like it rather than simply forbidding it. Help your child understand how or why you find it objectionable.

Wednesday: The impact

How do you feel when you see sexualized media images?

Urge your congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925).

Understand the impact

  • This report found real evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising and media today is causing harm to girls’ self-image and healthy development. 

  • Research has shown that sexualized images of girls and their messages are linked with three of the most common mental health problems in girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression or depressed mood. 

  • APA is calling on the media and advertising industries to reduce the number of sexualized images of girls in their offerings and replace them with positive and more realistic images of girls – girls as young people, not as sex objects. (Note: images are created and reinforced by actual images – photography, etc., but they are also created and reinforced by words – music lyrics, etc.) 

  • Positive images of girls include those that show girls engaging in healthy activities and show the competence of girls—as opposed to sexualized images of girls, which portray girls as sex objects only. 

  • The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents—boys and girls—that lead to healthy sexual development and to deliver messages to younger children that growing up doesn’t mean becoming a sex object. 

  • Parents, school officials and mental health professionals should be alert to the potential impact of sexualized images of girls.

  • Schools should teach media literacy skills to all students and should include information on the negative effects of the sexualization of girls in media literacy programs, as well as sex education programs. 

  • Parents have a key role to play to ensure that the messages they convey when they encourage or allow their children’s media habits and/or clothing choices lead to healthy self-image and sexual development.

Take action

APA initiated legislation, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), to increase research, youth empowerment and media literacy programs, and create a Federal Communications Commission task force to help curb this serious issue. We urge you to make a difference by asking your representative to co-sponsor this legislation.

Parental tip

Help your kids focus on what’s really important -- what they think, feel and value. Remind them that everyone is unique and that it’s important to look beyond appearance and to value others for what is really important.

Thursday: The resources

What resources does your community have that support youth empowerment and media literacy?

Urge your congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925).

Additional resources

Check out these media literacy and parental tips on empowering girls.

Take action

APA initiated legislation, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), to increase research, youth empowerment and media literacy programs, and create a Federal Communications Commission task force to help curb this serious issue. We urge you to make a difference by asking your representative to co-sponsor this legislation.

Parental tip

Understand
Young people often feel pressure to watch popular TV shows, listen to music their friends like, and conform to certain styles of dress. Help your daughter make wise choices among the trendy alternatives. Remind her often that who she is and what she can accomplish are far more important than how she looks.

Friday: Make a change

What can we all do to promote media that is healthier and more positive for everyone? 

Urge your congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925).

Write your representative today

APA initiated legislation, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), to increase research, youth empowerment and media literacy programs, and create a Federal Communications Commission task force to help curb this serious issue. We urge you to make a difference by asking your representative to co-sponsor this legislation.

Parental tip

Talk to your kids openly and honestly about sex and explain when you think it is OK – such as when it is part of a healthy, loving, and mature relationship. Find out what types of sexual education are offered at your child’s school. Effective programs discuss the influence of peers, media and culture on sexual relationships and how to make safe choices and create healthy relationships.

Save the date

On the heels of APA’s task force report that found the sexualization of girls so pervasive that "virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence," a coalition of organizations is taking action.

On Oct. 22, 2010, ASAP Initiative at Hunter/CUNY, Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, True Child, and Women’s Media Center will convene "SPARK Summit: Challenging the Sexualization of Girls and Women" at  Hunter College in New York City. The SPARK Summit will bring together girls and media professionals, thought leaders and funders, researchers and activists – and will serve as a national call to action and campaign for change.

As a first step toward building a broader coalition, a convening was held in May, thanks to generous funding from the NoVo Foundation. Participants included the Ford Foundation, Girls Inc., the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and APA, which will be a part of the summit’s policy/research committee.

An interactive website is being developed for participants to take action in the months leading up to the summit. For updates, follow the summit on Twitter: @SPARKsummit.