March 24, 2010

American Psychological Association Commends House Bill Aimed at Promoting More Positive Images for Girls

New legislation introduced to tackle effects of negative media images outlined in APA's Report of the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.

WASHINGTON – The American Psychological Association commended Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., for introducing legislation aimed at helping young girls reject the negative media images targeting them while encouraging the media to offer healthier and more positive messages for all young people.

The measure, H.R. 4925, entitled the Healthy Media for Youth Act, was introduced in the House today.

“It’s imperative that we do all that we can to tackle the alarming effects of negative media images that were outlined in the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls,” said Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, APA’s executive director for public interest. “This report found that three of the most common mental health problems among girls -- eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem -- are linked to the sexualization of girls and women in the media.”

This bill will provide $250 million over the next five years for youth empowerment programs and research on how depictions of women and girls in media affect youth. The measure also calls for the creation of a task force composed of representatives of the media, youth-serving organizations, research entities and federal agencies. This task force will help guide the media industry toward more helpful and positive images for the benefit of all young people as well as offer recommendations to the media for areas of improvement.

The Healthy Media for Youth Act will empower America’s young girls by:

  • Supporting age-appropriate education on negative effects of the sexualization of young girls, adolescents and adults.
  • Promoting healthy, balanced and positive images of girls and women in the media.
  • Building up young girls’ confidence and self-esteem and rejecting messages that sexualize and objectify them.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 152,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.