Media Literacy

Girls Inc. Media Literacy®

From magazines to marketing campaigns to music videos, girls today are surrounded by mass media images of girls and women. According to a 1999 survey, the typical American girl uses media of some kind (television, radio, computers, etc.) for over 5 hours per day.

Girls Incorporated has a unique program to help girls develop the skills to wade through the media messages that bombard them. Girls Get the Message ® (currently in development) is a national program that encourages girls and other media consumers to evaluate the messages in media such as television shows, films, CDs, newspapers, websites, music videos, magazines and video games. The program helps girls recognize stereotypes in media and differentiate between those stereotypes and their own lives. Girls learn to “read” media messages with a critical eye as they consider issues of ownership, media business and the roles of women and minorities “behind the scenes” in media careers.


A recent study found that one in five girls (20 percent) say that girls their age are negatively influenced by characters they see on television. Well over a third (39 percent), say that girls and boys are not shown as equals on television. Nearly two thirds (62 percent) view girls and women on television as being reliant upon others to solve their problems.

A majority of girls (69 percent) in one study reported that fashion magazine pictures influenced their idea of the perfect body shape, and almost half (47 percent) said that they wanted to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

In a 1995 survey of 2,000 children in third to twelfth grades conducted by Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., Girls Inc. learned that girls are often more likely than boys to have seen programs that upset or disturbed them. Girls were more likely to say that there is too much sex on television and that television is too violent. Majorities of both sexes said that there aren’t enough programs that help young people deal with pressures around sex, suicide, drugs, AIDS, divorce and violence.

GIRLS RE-CAST TV SM In response to girls’ views about television, Girls Inc. developed Girls Re-Cast TV, the first component of the Girls Get the Message program. Since 1995, thousands of girls across the country have analyzed television characters and programs, re-written scenes to be more representative of their viewpoints, and created their own treatments for shows.

To date more than 15,000 young people have participated in Girls Re-Cast TV and thousands more representing each state in the nation have requested and received an Action Kit designed to help girls think critically about media images. Through the program, girls have advocated with television executives, producers, directors and writers to express their views on how to make television more representative of girls’ concerns.


In Girls Get the Message, girls learn how to directly communicate with media industry professionals to make their voices heard. Girls Inc. continues this dialogue by hosting events that bring girls and media industry leaders together. At these events girls express their views on how to create more positive and realistic portrayals of girls and women in media.

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