Congress, Girl Scouts Support Positive Images for Girls in the Media


Women and girls probably make up a large percentage of your clientele. By supporting this bill, you can show your clients the high importance you place on the self-esteem and health of today's girls.

U.S. Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) recently introduced bipartisan legislation that establishes a national taskforce to develop voluntary guidelines and other measures to promote positive images of girls and women.

The bill, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), which was developed in collaboration with the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), would support media literacy programs, promote research on the effects of media images, and encourage the adoption of voluntary guidelines to promote healthier media images for youth.

"Throughout their lives, girls struggle with how to reconcile the images of girls and women they see in the media with their own body image, self worth and potential," said Kathy Cloninger, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA. "As the premier leadership experience for girls, it's vitally important that Girl Scouts play a leadership role in efforts to provide our young people with healthier, more positive images in the media. We're grateful to Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin and Shelley Moore Capito for co-sponsoring this important legislation, and we are excited about the impact it can have for girls."

In the coming weeks, Girl Scout staff and volunteer leaders from councils throughout the country will meet with their members of Congress to build support for the legislation. The initiative, known as Girl Scout District Congressional Advocacy Days, is part of an organization-wide effort to be the leading voice for girls and promote healthy media images for girls. The outreach effort is a unique opportunity for Girl Scouts to not only meet with members of Congress, but speak with a unified voice on issues important to girls.

"Children are consuming more media than ever," said Representative Baldwin. "Unfortunately too many of the images they see often reinforce gender stereotypes, emphasize unrealistic body images or show women in passive roles. All young people would benefit from seeing healthier and more positive messages about girls and women. The Healthy Media for Youth Act is a critical step towards achieving this goal."

Representative Capito said: "The need for healthy, positive images of girls in the media is clear. We applaud the Girl Scouts' response to this need. The Healthy Media for Youth Act, which builds upon with their tireless efforts to build girls' self-esteem, will improve youth media literacy and create new opportunities for the media to positively impact the health, relationships and future of our young people."

The Healthy Media for Youth Act is a part of wider effort by Girl Scouts at the federal, state, and local level known as Live Healthy, Lead Healthy, which seeks to engage policymakers and community leaders around key health and well-being issues affecting girls. In February, Girl Scouts released a study that found that nearly 90% of American girls feel intense pressure from the media to have an ideal body type. The same study found that girls want to see healthier, more realistic images of women in media. Girl Scouts is moving to respond to this need through the release later this year of its newest program, It's Your Story—Tell It!, which focuses on helping improve girls' self-esteem and media literacy skills.

"Girls need an advocate who will stand up for them," said Laurie Westley, senior vice president of Public Policy, Advocacy and the Research Institute. "By promoting the Healthy Media for Youth Act, Girl Scouts is being a voice for girls on an issue that directly and disproportionately affects them. Girl Scouts recognizes the need to bring attention to this important issue, which affects girls' self-esteem, body image, eating habits, and social and emotional development."

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