10 tips for girls to bust gender stereotypes
1. We’re all under the influence.
Understand that the media influences us all, no matter what our age and whether we want it to our not. They spend billions every year to do so! Develop a critical eye and ask yourself: whose interests are being served? Who is the audience for this?
2. How did that get there?
It’s not a mistake when a name-brand product appears in movies and TV shows; it’s there because marketers are trying to sell it to you, subtly (in addition to commercial breaks, when they market to you openly). When you see this kind of thing, remind yourself: this is product placement!
3. You’re more than how the media portrays you.
There’s so much more to what girls think, feel and do than what we see in tv shows, movies, music videos and ads. Buying into stereotypes robs us all of the chance to be different. Develop a critical eye and ask yourself: how does the media impact biases and stereotypes? What is the connection between entertainment and self-image?
4. The truth is out there.
Challenge stereotypes with counter-examples from real life. Don’t have any counter-examples? Go on a quest to find some! Develop a critical eye and seek out stereotypes. Ask yourself: how would I change this ad/show/movie to eliminate stereotypes?
Don’t be afraid to challenge the media to promote more positive and balanced portrayals. Feel like you can’t make a difference? Look how a campaign by some US teens got Seventeen Magazine to change the way they portray girls.
5. Labels are for clothing, not people.
Don’t stereotype yourself either: you’re so much more than a label or a category in a magazine quiz (e.g. girly-girl, tomboy, geek etc.) Be Unique: make a list of everything you are, do and love and see how exceptional you really are!
6. Anyone can like anything, regardless of gender.
“Girl stuff” and “boy stuff” are labels too, created by businesses to make their job of selling stuff cheaper and easier. When you use these labels, you deny girls and guys the opportunity to like certain things and be who they are.
7. We’re people first.
It’s okay if you like the stuff the media calls “girly” (e.g. pink, glam clothing, jewelry etc.); just don’t let it – or any material items – define who you are as a person.
8. They really are there for you.
Don’t overlook your parents or other adults in your life as possible role models and sources of information, advice and support. True, they may be older than you and not truly understand how life is for young people today. But with age comes great problem-solving skills! Seek out others: engage adults in a discussion about the media.
9. Knowledge is meant to be shared.
As you become more knowledgeable about the media and it’s tricky ways, share what you’ve learned far and wide with other girls, boys and even your parents and teachers. Speak out: engage your friends in a discussion about the media.
10. Power is in your hands and at your fingertips.
You have the power to speak out against things you don’t like in the media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Change.org make it especially easy to have your say and find others who feel the same way. Bad publicity is a marketer’s worst nightmare! Challenge yourself: find an image that pleases or offends you and speak out!
We hope you find these tips to combat gender stereotypes helpful! If you're an adult who's concerned about the impact of sexualization on young people, be sure to check out our post, What parents can do to combat sexualization.