When I was a freshman in college, I saw Jean Kilbourne speak in support of her documentary Killing Us Softly--and it quite literally changed my life. It illuminated so much about how the media work and the impact of ads on our collective psyche when it comes to self-esteem, body image and women. I am not exaggerating when I say that it, along with Sassy, put me on the path to becoming whatever it is I am today (girl advocate, body image activist, feminist writer.....)
Then one day I emailed Jean to tell her I was writing a proposal for a book for teen girls that would address many of these same issues. I explained that when I'd worked at Sassy, YM and Seventeen magazines, the mail from teens expressing the same concerns ("I don't look like a supermodel. What guy will ever go out with me?") flooded in daily. I told her I wanted to take a stab at preventing that by reaching teens BEFORE they got caught up in celebrity hype and negative body image. And to my great surprise, she emailed back. And she consulted with me on the proposal. And the book became All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty. She's that amazing.
Well, now an updated version of Killing Us Softly is out... and if you have never seen any of Jean's work, now is the time.
Get it at through the Media Education Foundation--and thank me later.
A description of the series from the MEF. (Yeah, what they said!)
"In this new, highly anticipated update of her pioneering Killing Us Softly series, the first in more than a decade, Jean Kilbourne takes a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity. The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes -- images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne's groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence."