Body Image & Wellness

Unattainable and idealized images of women’s and girls’ bodies are visible in every aspect of advertising and mass communication. Women and girls are bombarded constantly with messages that treat them as objects of sexual fantasy and exploitation or that demean them. Popular culture promotes unrealistic standards of beauty and makes women – particularly young women – susceptible to distorted body images, low self-esteem and psychological and eating disorders. The multi-billion dollar cosmetic surgery industry poses increased health risks for women, including life-long disfigurement. Researchers in our network are documenting negative messaging while encouraging a healthy representation of female beauty in which intellect, creativity and character trump thinness and physical perfection.

Tell Me PSA - School

The award winning Girls Inc. "Tell Me" PSAs feature girls telling adults what positive messages they need to hear.  

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Expert Profile

Location: 
United States
40° 42' 17.2368" N, 74° 0' 26.0784" W

Kyla Bender-Baird, Research and Programs Manager, is providing the Council with a wide range of research and communications support. She received a BA in Sociology from Principia College and an MS in Women’s Studies from Towson University. Her thesis focused on transgender experiences of employment discrimination. During her time at Towson University, Kyla was a graduate assistant with the Institute for Teaching and Research on Women. On completion of her master’s degree, Kyla served as a Vaid Fellow with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Kyla first joined the Council as a research consultant for The Big Five initiative. She has interned previously with Planned Parenthood and the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.

Location

New York, NY 10005
United States
40° 42' 17.2368" N, 74° 0' 26.0784" W

Expert Profile

Location: 
United States
38° 58' 50.88" N, 76° 56' 14.28" W

Ruth Enid Zambrana, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies, the Director of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity, the Former Interim Director of the U.S. Latino Studies Initiative (2007-2009) at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an Adjunct Professor of Family Medicine at University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine. 

Location

College Park, MD 20742
United States
38° 58' 50.88" N, 76° 56' 14.28" W

Expert Profile

Location: 
United States
40° 42' 13.932" N, 74° 0' 49.8744" W

Silvia Henriquez is responsible for the overall management, fundraising and administration of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Silvia has positioned NLIRH as one of the leading organizations working to advance the reproductive health and rights of Latinas. Within the first two years of her tenure, she increased national visibility through the 2004 March for Women’s Lives and the National Latina Summit. Subsequently under her leadership, NLIRH has developed a successful organizing and leadership development training curriculum, a national policy agenda and built coalitions with state and national partners that advance a reproductive justice advocacy effort. Through her work at NLIRH, Silvia has published articles in “Social Policy, Organizing for Social and Economic Justice and Democratic Participation” and “Conscience, The Newsjournal of Catholic Opinion.”

Location

New York, NY 10004
United States
40° 42' 13.932" N, 74° 0' 49.8744" W

THE GIRLS REPORT: What We Know & Need to Know About Growing Up Female

"Seven years ago the National Council for Research on Women and its member centers issued major reports on the status of girls in society, in schools, and in youth organizations in the United States. Since then, university researchers and popular writers have focussed attention on girls. The Girls Report is a fresh and timely look at every aspect of life for girls as we look toward the new millenium.

"If the reports in the early 1990s struck a chord of concern and a call to action, the tone of this report is optimism and activism. As we say at Girls Incorporated, girls are strong, smart and bold unless society puts barriers in their way. Lynn Phillips and the National Council staff have captured the strength, the energy, and the possibilities of girls on their way to becoming young women, while calling on the rest of us to be vigilant in supporting girls' high hopes and expectations for their own achievement."

Teaser: 

The Girls Report surveys current studies on girls, mapping theoretical debates, countering popular myths with recent research findings, and highlighting successful programs serving diverse populations. Chapters on education, health, self-esteem, violence, sexuality, and economic realities conclude with clear recommendations for action. A comprehensive bibliography offers resources to educators, researchers, policymakers, and all concerned with increasing opportunities for girls.

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GIRLS FORUM: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

February 10, 2009 posted by admin My first memory in life is of my mom holding me up as a human shield to try get my dad to stop beating her—possibly to stop from killing her. I was 2-years-old at the time. My book for young women, RESPECT: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING RESPECT AND DEALING WHEN YOUR LINE IS CROSSED (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005), was born out of a life riddled with disrespect. Like many girls and women I’ve met, I grew up in this home where domestic violence, addictions, incarceration, near poverty and "-isms" from racism to sexism were diminishing my family. But I was one of the lucky ones who discovered the many keys to breaking this cycle. Through following my passions, discovering my mission in life and getting help--among other Steps to Respect--I learned that respect is always within reach because true respect starts on the inside.  Now as I travel the country coaching girls and women, I hear a lot of stories just like mine. And as part of this work, I share with them an amazing video made by Jennifer Uribe, our 19-year-old program assistant at Respect Rx (a venture I founded last year). Jen's video includes powerful stats  that some girls have heard and some haven't, like: 


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GIRLS FORUM: See Dad

February 5, 2009 posted by admin How often is a girl’s Dad hidden in plain sight? Seeing fathers is an innovative step to increase and sustain girls’ self-esteem and self-efficacy considering the numerous obstacles they face. Seeing Dad is also a step that’s readily available, if not always easy to take. The power and potential of father-daughter relationships remain fairly invisible among advocates for girls and professionals working with girls and their families.  But a moment’s reflection reveals how important Dad and/or Stepdad is in Daughter’s life. Nearly every adult woman can identify ways her father (and/or stepfather) influenced her. Ask any group of adult women about their relationships with their fathers, and you rarely get a lukewarm answer.  You’ll hear something along the lines of either “He’s one of my heroes” or “He’s an [expletive deleted].”  Dads have unique influence in the lives of their daughters and stepdaughters.  A father’s actions (and inactions) set the standard of “man” for his daughter—what she can expect as normal from boys now and men later.  Dad also profoundly affects his daughter’s concept of “partner.”  His behavior in relationship with his daughter’s other parent(s) sets her standard for what’s normal and acceptable from her own eventual life partner(s), regardless of gender.


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GIRLS FORUM: Navigating Girlhood to Womanhood from New Moon’s Nancy Gruver

February 5, 2009 posted by admin We asked activists and scholars in the girl’s rights movement to draft a letter to President Obama, outlining their Girls Agenda for 2009.  Here’s what Nancy Gruver, founder and CEO of New Moon Magazine had to say: Dear President Obama: As Malia and Sasha’s proud father I don’t need to tell you how having daughters can give you new eyes on the world.  My daughters, Mavis and Nia, are adults now.  But it feels like just last week that they were ten years old and I was worrying about how to help them navigate the treacherous journey from girlhood to womanhood.  We started New Moon Girls magazine together to give girls a place to express themselves and make the world better. I believe you agree that growing up should mean increasing opportunities as well as responsibilities for our daughters.  It should mean increasing respect and rewards for their intelligence, creativity, and skills.  It should mean they have access to equal education and healthcare, including effective pregnancy prevention.  It should mean they have the freedom to walk down the street or go on a date without worrying they might be attacked just because they are female.


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GIRLS FORUM: Deborah Tolman on Enhancing the Resiliency of Girls

February 3, 2009 posted by admin We asked advocates and scholars working on issues affecting girls’ lives to address the national conversation on girl’s needs, desires, and rights. What would they like to see changed?  Below is the first response in this week’s forum: Health is not just the absence of disease or risk.  It is the ability to live in a healthy body, with a healthy mind and spirit.   Girls need more than the elimination of risks and dangers in their lives, environments, schools, neighborhoods, homes. They need the encouragement and information that can enable them to live in the positive.   Most government funded research focuses on what, how and sometimes why negative practices, forces, impacts can be eradicated.   How about some effort, energy and resources getting behind what works for diverse girls?  What girls need to enhance their resilience not just to minimize their risks?


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