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Media Bad For Our Girls?

I lifted my feverish head off the pillow yesterday to spend the afternoon at my beautiful daughter’s Volleyball game. I have only missed one since the season began because I take seriously my job as her chief booster/embarrasser (yeah, made up word). I’m proud of the woman she is turning into; incredibly sweet and whip smart. Maybe that’s why I was so dismayed to see that more than ten million people tuned in to see Kim Kardashian tie the knot with Kris Humphries. Really?

Okay I got nothing against the Kardashians but can someone remind me again, why are they famous? Forgive me for sounding like a middle-aged curmudgeon (which is why I am by the way), but what have they done to contribute to society?  What are they offering of value and why should we be watching?

The Kardashians haven’t claimed TV solely as their domain; they’re ubiquitous. You can’t go into a supermarket without seeing Kim and her most famous asset, coming from a workout. The sisters are inescapable too, as is their brother who is taking up valuable space on my favorite show.  So why does any of this matter?

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

That’s a clip from the movie Miss Representation, which airs on OWN later this month. I’ll be watching with Casey and Cole. Why?

Because the images being portrayed in the media are diametrically opposed from the one I am trying to portray at home.  I want Casey to think that she can be anything she wants to be, do anything she wants to do. I don’t want her to be afraid to call out in class for fear of being labeled as nerdy. I don’t want her to worry unnecessarily about hanging on to her looks or figure, fearing that’s the only way she’ll get ahead.  And I want Cole to respect girls who have brains.

This is mission critical in my mind because if we’re not careful, we’re gonna end up with a society populated by gorgeous idiots; some would argue that’s already the case. But there needs to be a change in the media being offered our kids. This looks like a good start.

As for the Kardashians, I’m not a hater. But how great would it be to see them pictured with a book instead of a Blackberry from time to time?  Hey, a mom can wish, can’t she?

What’s your take on media and young girls? Do you think we’re doing a disservice to girls AND boys with some of the imagery out there? What would you do to make it better?


  1. Janet

    October 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    There’s a terrific book called “Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media” – a friend of mine had it from a college women’s studies course, I borrowed it and read it for fun. It is a really great book in that it shows how women have been portrayed in the media since TV was invented and it gave me a far more critical eye when looking at ads and television shows. I can’t remember how old your daughter is but I’d recommend getting it and reading it and then having her read approrpiate sections. You may not be able to keep your daughter from watching Kim or Jersey Shore but she will look at them in a far different way and start figuring out the message behind the image.

  2. m.e. johnson

    October 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    As Janet said, this didn’t just start yesterday. All these years some young girls have gone to Hollywood thinking they’re “all that”. Some don’t go, right? Today, of the 300 million people in America, most of the ones girls will see/meet/work with are overwight or obese. I keep saying do not under-estimate the brains of most young people (who are about the business of business). At age 13, my granddaughter asked me, “How come they let old ugly men be on tv?” And they both would ask me, “Why you wear makeup? You’re already pretty.” They’re grown now and have never worn makeup.

    There will always be some (a few out of 300 mil) who buy into the hype. We ain’t gonna change that.

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