"the process of understanding and using the mass media in an assertive and non-passive way. This includes an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the media, the techniques used by them and the impact of these techniques."Media Literacy is
You might be wondering what does this have to do with me, young people, or even my children, but in the 21st century where we are consistently bombarded with media input and messages in our life - it has alot to do with you! Becoming media aware and literate is an incredibly important component of developing positive self esteem, self concept and body image. How so? The more media literate we are the more we have the ability to interpret media messages for what they really are, rather than what the product or advert is trying to sell us or tell us it is. It's about being aware and educated that not everything we see in the media is a true, real and accurate reflection of what someone looks like, the reality of a situation or the 'amazing properties' of a product we just simply can't do without. Hello Photoshop! Hello Airbrushing! Hello expensive stomach crunching machines that flat tummied men and women try to sell us stating we can get rock hard abs in 2 weeks! Right!
Far too many young people (and indeed people) compare and judge themselves against images seen in the media. We have to develop a critical mass understanding that we very, very rarely see images of celebrities and well known people in magazine spreads and advertising that are not very worked over and are often a far cry from what that person looks like in reality. Often they are made thinner. Wrinkles are ironed out. Blemishes removed. Hair made glossier. The list of how someone can be altered to create a 'perfect' image goes on. I couldn't put it better really than the team at Jezebel does in this article 'Why You Must See Unretouched Images and Why You Must See Them Repeatedly' and I for one will continue to support any efforts made for images to appear in the media that are more realistic and do not set up a beauty culture that is unattainable and obsessed with thinness.
I therefore dip my saluting fingers to the Girl Scouts of the USA for their latest joint campaign with the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and The Creative Coalition called "Watch What You Watch." The clip below says it all really, helping young people to be critical media thinkers and really 'watch what they watch!'
I heart it and encourage you to share it with your children and any young people you know.