Media Literacy/Awareness



I kept a journal almost every single day for nearly ten years.  And, although much of the content of those diary entries was private (as in, I’d be in HUGE trouble if my parents ever read it), often embarrassing, and seemingly pointless to save – I saved them.  Every. Single.  One.  Sounds silly, but I always knew, deep inside, that I’d need them one day.

It is a rare gift to have these daily accounts of my life age 13 through 22.  I also have two huge poetry books that were written throughout the same years.  In these pages I find laughter, pain, confusion, growth, tons of immaturity and ridiculousness, and a wealth of insight into the insanity (literally) of the teenage mind.

I’m very excited about my new project (as if I needed another one, ha!).  A brand-new blog, titled, “Letters to my Teenage-self…” will allow me to open up

These long-buried diaries and share them with today’s teen girls.  Sure, it was a few years ago – but the struggles are the same.  I’ll couple the shared entries with my responses to them now – in many cases, ten years later.  If only I could have really been there to give myself the advice I can lend now.

My collection of 16 diaries and 2 poetry books...

Kind of like Taylor Swift says in her song “15”, “…wish you could tell yourself what you know now…”.

In many instances, I’m nervous – no – petrified – to share the content of these entries.  Many of them are raw, humiliating, and some are even down-right stupid.  But, they were me in another time.  And so much of what will be read is relevant and painfully real.  Kind of like an under-ages Soap-opera told by a neurotic, incohesive, obsessive, sporatic narrator who never knows what craziness the next scene entails.

The purpose of the project is to reach out to teen girls by reaching back in time to when I was them.  By making myself vulnerable and opening up, I hope to speak to and, hopefully, inspire teen girls to not make the same mistakes I made.  Or maybe to make them if they need to – but to do it more wisely than I did.  I hope to touch the hearts of today’s teens in a way I couldn’t if I weren’t endeavouring to journey back to that “head-space”, so to speak.

I can only pray that my mistakes and lessons-learned can shed light, offer a giggle, a tear, a pin-drop of inspiration to the beautiful hearts that lie in the bodies of today’s struggling teen ladies.

This project goes very closely hand-in-hand with my current book and speaking work, entitled “Project LIGHT” where I endeavour to encourage teen girls to defy the norm by rejecting negative Media messages about women, felinity, sex, and the value of these precious beings called ‘girls’ in our world by shedding LIGHT on the lies and darkness of current media attitudes and trends.

 

To see the first post, visit:

www.myteenageself.wordpress.com

To participate in an online interview, or to contribute your thoughts, experiences, etc. to the current project I’m working on about girls, teens, and women and how we’re affective by negative media messages, please, email me at cldorman@sympatico.ca and let me know you’re in!

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I’m very excited and also a little nervous about a huge project that I’ve been working on for, well, way too long.  I’ve been an aspiring writer since I could put pencil to paper and I feel it’s time to truly put my money where my mouth is, so to ‘speak’.

There’s nothing “low-profile” about this project… in fact, it’s a bit controversial (to those who like to go with the grain…) and involves a lot of the kind of digging most people tend to avoid.  But, I’m pumped.  And I need your help.

Speak your mind!

I’m working with a seasoned, published writer to sketch the first three chapters of a book about the media and how it affects girls, women, and society as a whole.  Now more than ever we are bombarded with messages – all around us – we’re being told what to say, what to wear, what to buy, how to act.  We are sent so many messages, often we don’t even realize they’re being received.  Teen lives are filled to the brim with multi-media and peer influence – more than any other generation in history.  And teen girls have a lot to say about, well – everything.  And I’m asking them to share it.

We’re opening up about beauty, popularity, sex, celebrities, music, faith, Facebook, and all things ‘media’.  The soul of this project is to truly hear the hearts of today’s teens and women and dig deeper into the root of media influence.  As a Media Comm grad, I know very well that there are so many lies we are told through TV, movies, music, print media, etc. and it is my hope that we can all inspire and encourage each other to uncover the falsehoods.  ‘Counter-culture’ is maybe the phrase that would most closely describe what I’m going for.  We can choose to defy the norm, and learn how to live in true power and freedom – with a real sense of self and affirmed, deeply planted ‘identity’ and purpose.

The book is mostly geared for teen ladies but I’m looking for input from young girls all the way to senior women.  Your opinions, stories, ideas, and experiences are CRUCIAL for the raw, reality-based, no-secrets style I’m hoping to achieve through this revealing non-fiction eye-opener.

I also need some male voices – particularly young men (teens – early 20s), so if you’re a guy and you’re interested, or you know some one who may be willing to share his insights, please let me know.

I’m hoping to publish many of your stories, ideas, journal entries, experiences, etc. in the book, online through a website and blog, and also through a speaking series I plan to do.  I have full interview questionnaires available by email.  I could also interview you over the phone or in person, if you’d prefer.

All information shared is confidential and if/when your ideas and stories are used, your name will be changed for safety and privacy reasons (unless you ask otherwise and prefer to be fully credited by name.)

I truly hope to involve as many teens and women as possible in this project.  I’m looking for ladies from all backgrounds and walks of life.  I need your stories and opinions!

Also, if you are the leader of a Youth Group or a group that involves young people and/or teens – I’d love to talk to your group and involve them in a round-table discussion about these current issues and thought-provoking topics.  Please, contact me, and we can chat some more!

Please, contact me right away if you or other teens/women in your life would like to answer the survery and/or share your stories and insights!

Email –

cldorman@sympatico.ca

Phone –

905-870-4856 (If I don’t get to it in time, please, leave a message with your phone number).

Thank you so much.

The latest marketing ploy from Huggies has me twitching as I type.  Huge ads sprawl text like, “Make a Little Fashion Statement” and “Fashionable Diapers for your Baby”.  Seriously?  Last time I checked, I wasn’t concerned with whether my little ones’ diapers were ‘cool’ but rather, whether they kept them clean and dry.

Here’s a look at some of the advertising being used –

A link to the commercial on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=sQ0M9CBEkw0&feature=related


Some might say I’m uptight, but I think we need to take a more critical look at this campaign and what it means.

There’s something pretty creepy about using sex to sell baby diapers.  I have a serious problem with a commercial that insinuates women are ‘checking out’ a toddler because he looks so ‘good’ walking down the street in his hip nappy.   Many Moms have mentioned being thrilled that along with going short or pant-free, their babies will also avoid that awful ‘diaper line’ problem.  Huh?  Are we really this shallow as parents that we are concerned about our child’s diaper peeking up over his jean shorts?  Yikes.

In ads like the TV Commercial and the second print ad I posted above, you’ve also got babies being dressed up as and made to look like adult men.  Adult men who are attractive, sought after by grown women, and even possibly ‘sexy’.  If you can’t see it, you’re not taking a close or critical enough look.  With a society that is moving towards sexualizing younger and younger girls and boys –  campaigns like this can’t be ignored or bought into so easily.  We need to take a step back and refuse to contribute to these kinds of messages (IE: don’t buy them, consider not buying Huggies, or even send a letter to them if it bothers you enough).

On a very logistical note, there are several Mom Blogs with claims and comments posted that these diapers are actually leaving blue stains on babies’ legs and clothing.  This is concerning and I wonder what dyes are being used and if they are safe to be nuzzled next to a little one’s sensitive skin for hours at a time.

I also have a hard time with products that encourage parents to ensure that even their infants and toddlers are indeed, “in fashion”.  As the campaign tag-line suggests, do our babies really have to “look cool while pooping”?  Why are we placing so much emphasis on the way these tots look?  Do we really need to start the anxiety (mostly in the parent’s need to have baby measure up) THIS young?  What’s going to be next – diapers with brand names like GAP and Abercrombie printed on the bum?   C’mon!  Has Huggies completely gone off the deep-end or am I the only parent who is seriously concerned for a society that stresses about needing our baby diapers to look “chic”?!

*shakes head*

A few months ago, at the age of two, my daughter Audrey was given several Barbies, a Barbie mansion, various Barbie accessories, and questionable outfits.  Although something deep within me didn’t feel right about Barbie, I went along with having the dolls around.  For a while.

When something makes me wince or wonder or question, I am wired to investigate.  Through weeks of reading and research, I uncovered so many of the reasons why my spirit was dampened at the sight of that blond plastic bombshell.

Today, Barbie makes up about 60% of the fashion doll industry, with the newer “Bratz” dolls taking the other 40%.  Bratz, in my opinion, are intrinsically worse than Barbie, but that’s an entire other article.  In short, Bratz are stylized with a much more sexual look and are proud to be outwardly ‘skanky-chic’ (as girls call it).

When asked who they would see as having “the perfect body”, hundreds of thousands of females responded, “Barbie”.  And, these aren’t just little girls.  These are teens, young adults, and middle aged women.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Barbie is a symbol of femininity.  Most girls spend countless hours dressing, undressing, dressing again, doing hair, doting, adorning with accessories, and playing out life-scenarios for and with their Barbie dolls.  So, what’s the big deal?

Some things you may not know about today’s girls:

  • Young girls’ body image and self-esteem are at an all-time, devastating low. We are living in an age where 4-year-olds are worried about looking ‘hot’, 8-year-olds are obsessing about being ‘fat’, and 11-year-olds are performing oral sex on boys in school buses to gain social status among peers.
  • Girls are being targeted by marketers of beauty products and name brand clothing lines at preschool ages.
  • Girls are being HUGELY influenced by negative ‘role models’ like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.
  • Eating disorders are on the rise among younger and younger girls
  • Teens are engaging in sex earlier and with less precaution than in past decades
  • More teen girls than ever have anxiety, are depressed, and suicidal.

So, BARBIE CAUSED ALL THIS!  No.  That’s not what I’m saying.  What caused ‘this’ is a myriad of issues, including – destructive media messages (and the media is the TOP influencer of the majority of preteens and teens), broken and disconnected families, young people more reliant on their peers than their parents (and parents who aren’t there), an overwhelming lack of purpose in millions of young people, and the list goes on.

But, let’s not be naive about the role these dolls play in the lives of young girls, because it’s a huge one.

If, during a child’s most formative years, she spends countless hours enthralled with fashion dolls like Barbie and Bratz, she is bombarded with an overwhelming passive-aggressive influencer about what being a beautiful and successful ‘woman’ means.

And, unfortunately, what these multi-billion dollar corporately controlled dollies are preaching is:

  • Beautiful is abnormally SKINNY but oddly CURVACEOUS. The ironic tragedy is, we have millions of girls who view Barbie as having ‘the perfect body’ but her body is completely unattainable. A recent research project done by Rader Programs suggests that if Barbie were a real woman, she would be approximately 6’ tall, 100 lbs, and wear a size 4.  Her measurements would be 39, 19, 33.  Her body fat % would be so low, she would not be able to menstruate and would never have babies with that hunky Ken.  Any girl who actually achieves anything close this “Barbie body” is both a genetic anomaly and often a fabrication of technology.  And so, girls desperately strive to attain the unattainable (enter the marketing of the multi-billion dollar beauty products, dieting, and weight-loss industries). Because the ideal is almost never achieved, girls grow up unhappy with their bodies on a whole, constantly striving to fill the “gap” that their lack of confidence leaves.  This contributes greatly to our society’s materialistic lifestyle(s).
  • Beautiful is WHITE. “But, there are mulit-cultural Barbies and Bratz!” argue many.  Yes, there are.  But visit the Barbie website and every Barbie character (15 I counted when I logged on today) on the home page is white with blond hair.  Although we have come a long way from previous generations on our view of multi-cultural beauty, we are still very trapped by the ‘white girls are prettier’ notion.  Studies have shown that over 75% of lead characters and personalities on TV are white.  White Barbies far overpower Barbies of any other culture in stores and online.  This is damaging for both white girls AND girls of other ethnic backgrounds – one (the white girl) could subconsciously form the view that whites really ARE most desirable, and the other (a young girl of another ethnic background) could grow to view her cultural roots as a barrier to beauty and overall acceptance and success.
  • Beautiful is all about WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. There isn’t much else to DO with Barbies but dress them up and do their hair.  Then we sit around and shallowly discuss how ‘pretty’ they look.  I remember my daughter looking up at me with all her white skinned, blond Barbies in row, perfectly primped.  “They’re BEEE-eautiful!” she gasped.  I cringed and smiled weakly.  Sure, I remember my Barbies going to the mall or the beach, or for a trip in their awesomely cool red Barbie Ferrari.  But before each outing, they got redressed and restyled and it was always about making sure Barbie looked good.  Barbie is the epitome of Western beauty.  She’s ridiculously skinny and flat-bellied but big-boobed and round-bootied. (Say that 10 times fast!).  She’s tanned and toned.  She’s also got the ‘perfect face’ – high cheekbones, straight white teeth, well-shaped brows, and big, bright eyes that project symmetrical perfection.  Reality is, this is only the picture of beauty because we’re conditioned to believe this way.  Just over 100 years ago, big round cheeks, small eyes, white skin, and lusciously chubby legs and bums with cellulite were signs of rare beauty (I don’t know about you, but I wish those times would make a come back!).  All jokes aside, young girls are being conditioned to view beauty in a certain way, period.  This view of beauty is false, narrow, and can be life-altering and destructive to girls who do not fit the mold or frantically spend their lives trying DESPERATELY to squeeze in.
  • Beautiful is SLUTTY. Barbie ain’t who she used to be.  I have a huge issue with branding children.  Selling and marketing adult-like clothing to kids has slowly become the norm over the past few decades.  Now, it isn’t uncommon to see a girl, age 7 or 8, walk by in a halter top, short-shorts, and platform sandals.  Really!?  I know there are many parents who don’t see a problem with this, but I do.  Our children are losing their innocence WAY too young.  We have 5-year-olds watching videos like “I Can’t Be Tamed” by Miley Cyrus, and third graders idolizing pop-stars like Kesha – raunchy, rude, and promiscuous to scratch the surface.  And they mimic these ‘stars’ by dressing like them.  Barbie is no different.  If she is a permanent fixture in the home and a friend to young girls, they will look at the way she dresses and draw from it.  There are fewer and fewer Barbie outfits that are modest or suitable for young girls.  More often, Barbie wears extremely tight, short, midriff bearing clothes with stilettos or hooker boots.  And then we tell our daughters their Barbie looks “so pretty”.  What are we saying here?  Not exactly the message of modesty I’m hoping to relay to my sweet 3 year old (and beyond).

When I tell people we don’t allow Barbie in our home, they raise one eyebrow and grow this incredibly confused but somewhat mocking look on their face.  (Don’t worry, I’m getting used to that look).  They just can’t wrap their mind around why Barbie is such a big deal to us.  Most people say something like, “Pfft, Barbie is just a doll… besides, I played Barbie – didn’t ruin me!”

My response to comments like these lies somewhere between, “OPEN YOUR EYES!!!” and “Hm, ok.”

We live in a sex-obsessed, materialistic, unhappy, culturally and socially stunted environment.  Families are falling apart all around us.  Girls are living with more challenges than ever before.  I am just a Mom who wants the best for my kids.  I want our daughter to grow up with a sense of self-worth that goes far, far deeper than the surface.  That will come from her foundation in faith, growing up in an unconditionally loving family,  and having a rich life filled with wholesome education, out-ward focused activities, and a sense of belonging and purpose (among other things, I’m sure!).

Will having Barbie as a friend completely ruin her?  Nah, probably not.  But, why give her something we know is potentially destructive and negative and then cross our fingers it doesn’t affect her ‘too much’?  That kind of parenting makes no sense to me.  I’d much rather take a proactive role and stand firm in the truth I know lies behind the multi-billion dollar dolly industry that hopes to passively invade our daughter’s heart and mind.

An interesting story I found while researching:

From AnitaRoddick.com ->

“In 1998, The Body Shop debuted its self-esteem campaign, featuring the generously proportioned doll we dubbed “Ruby.” Her rubenesque figure graced windows in The Body Shop windows in the UK that year, along with our slogan, “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” She went on to appear in stores in Australia, Asia, and the United States, where she captured the imaginations of consumers weary of the rail-thin heroin-chic of the beauty industry’s advertising messages.

Ruby was a fun idea, but she carried a serious message. She was intended to challenge stereotypes of beauty and counter the pervasive influence of the cosmetics industry, of which we understood we were a part. Perhaps more than we had even hoped, Ruby kick-started a worldwide debate about body image and self-esteem.

But Ruby was not universally loved. In the United States, the toy company Mattel sent us a cease-and-desist order, demanding we pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad, presumably by mocking the plastic twig-like bestseller (Barbie dolls sell at a rate of two per second; it’s hard to see how our Ruby could have done any meaningful damage.) I was ecstatic that Mattel thought Ruby was insulting to Barbie — the idea of one inanimate piece of molded plastic hurting another’s feelings was absolutely mind-blowing.

Then, in Hong Kong, posters of Ruby were banned on the Mass Transit Railway because authorities said she would offend passengers. (Granted, Ruby often appeared without clothes on, but like Barbie, she had no nipples or pubic hair.) Of course, the much more seriously offensive images of silicone-enhanced blondes in other ads were permitted to stay on the trains.

And there, in a nutshell, is my relationship with the beauty industry. It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.”

I agree whole-heartedly.

God Bless, all!