Awhile back when I visited my former middle school, I encountered a 12-year-old girl who summed it up perfectly. â��Snooki is so out,â�� she said. â��She makes us all look stupid, when really, weâ��re smart girls with a lot more to talk about than hair, clothes and the latest guy weâ��re dating.â�� There are few moments in my professional life when the darkness and overwhelmingly uphill battle is set ablaze by a bright light and a momentary glimpse of hope. You see, battling the big, bad world of media and the negative depictions of women, the dumb girl syndrome that gets splattered on the cover of tabloids, not to mention the myriad of vapid female characters in TV and movies, leaves me slightly depressed. All that being said, the pendulum is finally swinging its way back and itâ��s about damn time.
Running an empowerment nonprofit for women is one thing, but building a community in order to battle the epidemic of insecurity plaguing our great nation’s girls is another. We at I AM THAT GIRL (IATG) believe that real change is possible. Our mission of inspiring girls to discover their innate worth and purpose is something we strive for, but competing with the media’s negative influence on our girls is an epic undertaking. We're rather resilient (a euphemism for down-right stubborn) at IATG headquarters, though, so four years ago when the vision was created to ignite the 21st Century women’s movement, we had all the faith in the world that by using media as a vehicle to positively influence girls, we could create a shift in confidence.
Last October, the highest honor was afforded us as we were invited to the White House to discuss this rather tenacious Healthy Media Initiative of ours. Inviting influential individuals in new and traditional media (Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush and Megan & Liz to name a few), we presented a campaign concept to prove that media could be used to inspire confidence in women. The campaign was called That Girl Rocks, and it asked everyone to give a video shout-out to "that girl" in their life they love and admire. We were hoping it would catch on, and catch on it did. The day of the launch we were shocked at the staggering numbers as celebrities tweeted out #thatgirlrocks, attaching videos they had made for their mom, sisters, daughters and friends. Our numbers and influencers who jumped onboard are proof that the shift is finally here.
It wasn’t until after our campaign launch when we were featured on The Huffington Post, Glamour.com and Womenâ��s Health magazine that we officially deemed our initiative a success. Numbers don’t begin to grasp the validation in the form of video submissions as well as the strangers who stumbled upon our site and wound up sending in a video of their own. It’s slightly ironic that the new taboo is shifting toward things like integrity, modesty and authentic confidence; but we certainly don’t mind.
We humbly recognize that the battle has just begun. It will take lifetimes to shift the titanic-size media influence we’re up against. This may merely be the tip of the iceberg and we may have not so much as scratched the surface, but we are one step closer to showing media makers that sex may sell, but so does healthy, savvy, dynamic and meaningful media. We have a generation of girls who, alongside I AM THAT GIRL, believe smart is the new sexy.
So game on, healthy media because this is just the beginning.Lead image courtesy of Idiotsandgenious.blogspot.com