See more deceptive ads on the Brave Girls Alliance website.
Thank you to Jodi Bondi Norgaard, Founder & CEO of the Dream Big Toy Company for contributing her story.
I never intended to go into the toy business seven years ago, but imagine browsing the store for toys with your 9-year-old daughter and she picks up a doll wearing a half shirt, bellybutton ring, eye shadow and its name on the hang tag is ‘Lovely Lola.’
“Mommy, is this doll for me to play with?” she asks.
That’s what happened to me, and it inspired me to create the Go! Go! Sports Girl doll collection, designed to empower girls to be active, promote healthy life skills, and encourage creative play through sport over fashion and body image.
Since my ‘Ah-ha’ (or ‘oh-no’!) moment seven years ago, my journey has been eye-opening. My questions have always been, ‘Why aren’t we ALL encouraging our girls to be strong, smart, and adventurous? Why is it so important to focus on appearance rather than ability? What is the downside to encouraging girls to do their best?’
Then I started reading statistics:
- 3 of the most common mental-health problems among girls (eating disorders, depression or depressed mood/self-esteem) are linked to the presentation of women in the media
- 42% of girls in grades 1-3 want to be thinner
- 51% of 9-10 year old girls feel better about themselves when they’re dieting
- 53% of 13 year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies
- 62% of girls don’t think they “measure up” in some way
- By the time they’re 17, these children have seen 250,000 TV commercials telling them they should be a decorative object, sex object or a body size they can never achieve
- 78% of 17 year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies
- 30% of High School girls and 16% of High School boys suffer from disordered eating
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses
- 50% of women 18 – 25 would rather be hit by a truck than be fat
- 80% of women feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty ad
In July 2011, The American Medical Association announced its adoption of a new policy to discourage the rampant use of photoshopping by advertisers. In its policy, the AMA cites the connection between the practice, the subsequent distribution of altered/unrealistic images, and adolescent health problems, particularly body image and eating disorders.
Advertisers commonly alter photographs to enhance the appearance of models’ bodies, and such alterations can contribute to unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents. A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems. The AMA adopted new policy to encourage advertising associations to work with public and private sector organization…to develop guidelines for advertisements that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.
As I say to my three kids, ‘I have had enough!’ I am a founding member of the Brave Girl Alliance. A group of businesses, experts, not-for-profit organizations, authors, activists, artists, parents, educators, adults, and girls who have come together to ask media content creators and large corporation and retailers to make a commitment to support girls’ empowerment. Our new campaign is called the Truth In Advertising Act of 2014 (HR4341). We want to make sure that all consumers, especially children, know when a human body has been altered in an ad. While we assume no ill-intent on behalf of advertisers and their agencies, it’s past time for them to be accountable for the side effects of how they sell, not just what they sell.
In June, I will launch a series of books to go along with the six Go! Go! Sports Girls. They will be sold individually and as a doll/book set called Read & Play. The books and dolls in the series encourage all girls to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals and have fun while doing so. All six Read & Plays recently won the highest award in the toy industry, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.