Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tune into a new message

One of the lessons we teach at Girls on the Run is called "Tuning Into a New Message."  The objectives of this lesson are to help girls become aware of the negative ways in which the media portrays girls and women and to develop critical thinking skills when viewing advertisements or media images.  At Girls on the Run we want girls to take ownership and find what makes them unique as individuals.  Part of helping girls achieve that is to help them think critically about the messages that we face each day.

Who created the message? What is the purpose? What message does an ad give and what information are they leaving out?  Is this a healthy message for girls?  Advertisements can be misleading and make you believe something that isn't true so you will buy the product. 

When I opened this month's Better Homes and Gardens magazine, the Cover Girl advertisement featuring Sofia Vergara immediately caught my attention.  "Go out without my Cover Girl on- are you crazy?" This message reminded me of a social experiment created by Girls on the Run founder Molly Barker, and Operation Beautiful founder, Caitlin Boyle called The Naked Face Project.  Two women, sixty days, no makeup, no shaving, no primping.  Their mission was to discover the why behind their beauty rituals.  Is it learned from a society of makeup pushers?  Do they enjoy these beauty rituals?  How can they profess to young girls that it isn't important, unless they know for themselves that it truly isn't important? 

Earlier this week Molly mentioned that she was a little sad the project was coming to a close.  She has felt very liberated in this social experiment, finding that much of her worry about what she needs has been eliminated, and her skin has never been healthier.  On the other hand, she professes her excitement to shave again!  But overall, she has found and enjoyed a new love and acceptance of her body and the work it does to help her navigate life. 

Caitlin wrote, "For us, participation in The Naked Face Project has re-emphasized the fact that there are many ways for women (and men, too) to express their inherent awesomeness, and physical appearance is just one aspect of beauty."

So now, would a true "Girl on the Run" like Molly Barker or Caitlin Boyle announce, "Go out without my Cover Girl on- are you crazy?"  I don't think so.  I truly believe it is ok and even fun to wear make up, but that the expectation that we can't be seen in the world without it is not ok. 

So let's break this ad down Girls on the Run style:

Who is this ad created by?  Clearly Cover Girl.
What is the purpose? To convince me to buy their products, specifically their make up.
The message: That I would be crazy to venture out without make up on.  That if a woman as beautiful as Sofia Vergara wears make up all the time, perhaps I really need to as well.
Information left out: What's in the product? How much does it cost? Why can't I go out without make up on?  Is it personal, is it to impress others?
Is this a healthy message? I don't think so.  Girls shouldn't feel like they can't live without make up.  Part of accepting ourselves and our unique qualities, is to be natural and love ourselves exactly as we were created. 

The message today is not to curse the Cover Girl's of our society, but rather help each of us to be aware of the messages that enter our consciousness, or even sub-consciousness each and every day.  When I saw this ad I was immediately appalled.  But what if I hadn't been trained to question the messages I receive.  Perhaps I opened my magazine and truly thought that I am not good enough because I leave the house without make-up.  Many women in our society believe this.  Choose to question the how and why of your actions and stand up for what you believe in.

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