Healthy Media Makeover
I’ve spent years working in the entertainment industry. From red carpet interviews to sport shows to a hard fought battle on the reality TV show, Survivor, I’ve been in the thick of it, as a host, a professional storyteller, media personality and content creator. It wasn’t until I performed in a progressive women’s play, written by Eve Ensler, that a passion deep in my soul was ignited and I was instantaneously thrust into a completely different trajectory. I realized through this play that simultaneously entertained and educated its audience, that story telling could ignite change, it would create awareness, inspire, challenge and engage. I also realized that the entertainment industry was a tool and a vehicle to reach that audience.
You see the entertainment industry doesn’t necessarily tell us what to think, but it certainly tells us what to think about. The mere fact that youth are consuming over ten hours of media a day, second only to school and sleeping, describes its power and influence. My fear is that the conditioning our girls receive — the 3,000 brand images they see daily and the 400 billion dollar beauty industry highlighting both their flaws and the expensive solutions — reinforces the lie that our girls are not good enough.
They see messaging, images and depictions of girls that are hyper-sexualized, catty, simplistic and airbrushed to an unfathomable, “perfect-driven” expectation. For me this problem is very personal because I’m not above the insecurities that accompany staring at Victoria Secret super models, the ideals set by unrealistic romantic comedies or the struggle for “thin” at the expense of “healthy.”
But rather than complain about the current state of media, I’d rather spend my time creating solutions. In October of last year, I had the great privilege to present to the White House what I described as the “global healthy crisis for girls.” In response to the negative repercussions that media can have on girls and their confidence, I presented the campaign concept called That Girl Rocks as a solution. I asked Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and head of the White House council on Women and Girls: “What if we could create media that was lifting girls up, instead of breaking them down?” “What if we showed girls what was possible if we collaborated instead of competed and if we encouraged contribution over mere consumption?” “What if we had the audacity to redefine what it means to be a rock star and inspire girls to think for themselves, to speak their truth and to discover their purpose?”
Healthy media is our solution to the epidemic of insecurity among girls. That Girl Rocks is the first campaign to overcome the cynical idea that “people prefer train wrecks, sex sells and low level reality TV portraying catty girls or rich princesses is what people want towatch.” That Girl Rocks is designed to prove the Hollywood executives wrong because we believe that what girls want and deserve is strong, rich, textured, intelligent, savvy, creative, funny, entertaining and thought-provoking content.
I AM THAT GIRL believes there’s a responsibility in the caliber of content that girls and young women consume because it has such a profound impact on their confidence and self-esteem. I may be a hopeless optimist, a trailblazing passionista on a mission to leave the world better, but I do believe that change is possible, I do believe that media can transform the vicious “mean girl” paradigm and that I AM THAT GIRL can ignite a movement of confident, thoughtful, compassion and contribution-driven girls leading our country and our world to a better place. In short, think it’s time we stopped trying to give our girls makeovers when it is really the media that needs one the most.
// Alexis Jones is a a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, and the founder of I AM THAT GIRL //