The Healthy MEdia Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls has released a set of recommendations designed to improve the way women and girls are portrayed across the media spectrum, with the ultimate goal of improving the way women and girls view themselves. Geena Davis’s organization has been joined by NAB and NCTA, among others, in supporting the project.
The Girl Scouts of America played a prominent role in the project, as did Davis’s Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and so too did the Creative Coalition. Also in on the project was former FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, now the International Telecommunications Union Special Envoy and Laureate for Child Online Protection.
“We are so proud of the work of this Commission and deeply appreciate its guidance on how we can best address the growing issue of how images of girls and women often are portrayed in our mainstream media,” said Geena Davis. “The Commission has recognized the importance of including more women throughout the creative process and helping the makers and users of media better understand the impact of media images among girls and women.”
“This is really an important issue for our young people today around the world,” said Deborah Taylor Tate. “With the growth of media proliferating, and girls being flooded with media and messages, it’s more critical than ever to heighten awareness of the need for more real and healthy images in the portrayal of women.”
The executive summary sets the table for the report:
Recognizing media’s role in influencing a child’s growth and development, the Healthy MEdia Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls supports efforts to increase the number of female characters in the media and ensure that female roles, images, and portrayals are authentic, balanced, and healthy.
Using research from Girl Scouts of the USA, the American Psychological Association, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, and experts in the field of media and youth development – including the voices of girls themselves – the Healthy MEdia Commission developed the following aspirational elements of healthy media. Healthy media could help to foster healthy development among girls, including social, emotional, and physical well-being.
The Healthy MEdia Commission offers these varying elements to help inform media content creators in the development of balanced, authentic depictions of women and girls. Therefore all forms of media, including television, film, print, radio, online content, video games, social networks, animation, advertising across all platforms, and consumer products such as toys, should strive to increase representations of:
Healthy Body Images
* Girls and women of varying body types, ages, races, and ethnicities
* Girls and women with disabilities
* Girls in age-appropriate attire and makeup
* Depictions of girls and women, whether real-life or animated characters, that are natural and celebrate the diversity of beauty
* Real-life and animated female characters, including nonhuman characters, that are not hypersexualized
Active and Diverse Female Characters
* A diverse cast of female characters in empowered, active, and inspirational roles
* Girls and women in leading roles and as main characters
* Females in leadership and diverse roles, such as CEOs, scientists, or action heroes
* Girls and women who have confidence in their abilities and appearances and recognize and learn from the consequences of their actions
Equal and Healthy Relationships
* Equality and mutual respect between female and male characters, including respect for talents, intelligence, and overall personalities, not just appearance
* Positive and healthy interactions between children and trusted adults, such as between girls and their mothers
* Healthy peer-to-peer relationships between girls and their female or male friends and classmates
Increased Roles for Women and Girls
* Balanced representation and diversity of women on screen, including more female leads, supporting roles, narrators, and extras
* Greater balance of female executives, decision makers, and staff working behind the scenes