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Why Reject the Media Stereotype?​—Part 1: For Girls

Why Reject the Media Stereotype?​—Part 1: For Girls

 What is the media stereotype?

 Look at these words, and then answer the questions that follow.

Column 1

Column 2













  1.   Which words describe teenage girls as you usually see them depicted in the movies, on TV, or in magazines?

  2.   Which words describe how you would like to be known?

 Likely, your answers to the first question came from column 1 and your answers to the second question came from column 2. If so, that means you aspire to be better than the “typical” teenager portrayed by the media​—and you’re not alone! Consider why.

 “Movies portray the typical teenage girl as a rebel with an attitude problem. It makes it seem as if all of us are untrustworthy, image-focused drama queens.”​—Erin.

 “The teenage girls in movies and on TV are attention-hungry and obsessed with their looks, clothes, popularity, and boys.”​—Natalie.

 “Rarely do you see the ‘fun’ girl not drinking, not sleeping with guys, and not rebelling against her parents. When a girl isn’t shown doing those things, she’s depicted as either a religious fanatic or some kind of prude.”​—Maria.

 Ask yourself: ‘Does the way I dress, act, and speak really reflect who I am, or am I merely mimicking the stereotype I see depicted in the media?’

 What you should know

  •   Many who think they’re carving out their own identity are merely conforming to an identity that’s been handed to them. “I see it in my little sister,” says a young woman named Karen. “She pretends not to care about anything but clothes and boys. She’s smart, and I know that she has other interests, but she plays dumb because she thinks that’s the only way she can be like ‘all the other girls.’ And she’s only 12!”

     The Bible says: “Stop being molded by this system of things.”​—Romans 12:2.

  •   The stereotype does not reflect what all teenage girls want to be. “In the media, girls are shown as self-obsessed, ditzy, and prone to do immature things, but I think most of us have fairly good judgment,” says 15-year-old Alexis. “We have other things in our lives besides daydreaming about some cute guy.”

     The Bible says: “Mature people . . . have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”​—Hebrews 5:14.

  •   Stereotyping serves the interests of marketers​—not those of teen girls. Recognizing the potential for profit, powerful industries​—including publishing, fashion, technology, and entertainment​—start targeting young people before they reach their teens. “Advertisers suggest tweens who don’t have the latest clothes, jewelry, makeup, and electronic products won’t be popular,” says the book 12 Going on 29. “Tweens see seductive commercials on a constant basis, even before they understand what the seduction is about.”

     The Bible says: “Everything in the world​—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life​—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.”​—1 John 2:​16.

 To think about: Who benefits most if you think way too much about the most popular designer labels in fashion? Who really profits if you must have that latest cell phone just to be popular among your peers? What do marketers care more about​—your well-being or their own?

 What you can do

  •   Learn to question the stereotype you see promoted by the media. As you grow up, you acquire the ability to see more than what appears to the eye. Use your perception to think about the effect that media stereotypes can have on you. “The media portrays a typical teenage girl as one who has more makeup on than clothes,” says 14-year-old Alana, “and many teens don’t realize that it doesn’t really make them look better​—it makes them look desperate.”

  •   Develop your goals as to the type of person you want to become. For example, think back to the qualities you identified at the beginning of this article​—the qualities for which you would like to be known. Why not start working now either to acquire them or to improve in them? The Bible says: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it”​—not according to the image promoted by advertisers.​—Colossians 3:​10.

  •   Find positive role models. Some might be in your family, such as your mother or your aunt. Others could be mature female friends or acquaintances. Jehovah’s Witnesses have the benefit of many exemplary women in the Christian congregation.​—Titus 2:​3-5.

 Suggestion: Use the book Imitate Their Faith to learn about Bible examples of excellent role models for women, including Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, Mary, and Martha. Imitate Their Faith is published by Jehovah’s Witnesses and is available at