In the twelve years that Hardy Girls Healthy Women has been around, we’ve seen some major changes in the way that media portrays girls and women.  I mean, it’s always been pretty bad but we’re supposed to be evolving as a society right?  Not so much in the media department.

Here are a few of our least favorite examples of the changes:

  • The degree to which images are altered with airbrushing and Photoshop tools has increased, so we’re seeing an ever more unrealistic definition of beauty.
  • High fashion models are getting younger and thinner, meaning that younger and younger girls are comparing themselves to the models they see in the pages of fashion magazines.
  • The sexualization and objectification of women and girls in popular media is rampant, warping the value both genders put on women’s worth.
  • Graphic violence against women in pop culture media is on the rise, with violence and sex  more explicitly linked than ever before.
  • Rates of plastic surgery have skyrocketed, especially among teens and young women.

How does this effect girls?  Well, here’s where we get pretty peeved. While marketers are “just trying to make a buck” they’re selling out girls big time.  With 5,000+ media images bombarding girls every single day with the message that they’re not skinny enough, not flawless enough, not tall enough, not sexy enough, not good enough, their self-worth plummets, they struggle with depression and eating disorders, their grades suffer.  Girls learn that they’re supposed to compete with other girls, rather than see them as allies. They learn that having a boyfriend is priority #1.

But we know that girls who think critically about these messages, have opportunities to connect with other girls in meaningful ways, and have support and encouragement from adults to take action about the injustices they see, aren’t buying what the media are selling.

That’s why Hardy Girls Healthy Women is standing with SPARK, Miss Representation, I Am That Girl, Love/Social and all the other SPARK partners to support #KeepItReal – an effort to push back against retouched, idealized images in media and demand that popular teen and women’s magazines commit to one non-retouched spread per issue.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women keeps it real through our programs, advocacy, and resources for girls and the adults who care about them.  How do you #KeepItReal?  Join the Keep It Real Challenge.