How to change girls and women’s representation | Plan International Skip to main content

How to change girls and women’s representation

It’s time to demand better representation of girls and women on screen and in the media.

It seems impossible for the media and entertainment industries not to stereotype or discriminate against girls and women.

Perfume adverts see women lounging in lingerie. Music videos show women in barely-there swimming costumes whilst the men remain fully clothed. Movies rely on tired tropes - the dutiful housewife, the damsel in distress, the superhero who must save the world in a wildly impractical outfit.

It’s time to change the story. Girls and young women want to see powerful leaders represented on screen. But how do we get that message across to media and entertainment providers?

Choose the perfect hashtag

Social media provides an instant way to inform people about discrimination and gain support. Hashtags are an effective way to share a campaign message.

In 2019 British magazine Stylist began the #LoveWomen campaign to draw attention to the skewed representation we see of women in the media. As part of the campaign, Stylist made 5 pledges along with their hashtag, on how they would improve their representation of women. They covered being inclusive to all women, celebrating all female bodies and holding other media outlets accountable for inaccurate representation.

#LoveWomen has been used by Stylist and their followers but also by others. For example, Dove posted Stylist’s campaign video on their Instagram wall with #LoveWomen to show their support. This post alone received 23,961 views.

 

Make it shareable

Encouraging others to engage and interact with your campaign is essential. In 2015 Protein World launched an advertising campaign for weight-loss supplements. The slogan read: “Are you Beach Body Ready?” and was accompanied by a slim model in a bikini.

Charlotte Baring was sick of women being objectified in the media and so began a protest under the hashtag #EveryBodysReady.

In the process of the campaign, supporters began creating spoofs of the advertisement. Posters such as, ‘Are you Peach Body Ready?’, ‘Are you Beer Body Ready?’ and ‘Every Body is Beach Body Ready’, appeared on social media with the hashtag #EveryBodysReady.

Set a challenge or game along with your hashtag and let people know that you want them to be actively involved in your campaign. Encourage funny and shareable criticism.

Take inspiration from the A.V Club’s video highlighting the ridiculous nature of Jurassic World’s lead female character fighting off dinosaurs in heels:

 

Get coverage in traditional media

Getting media attention on your campaign can massively increase supporter numbers.

Once your hashtag gains traction, approach news outlets and sell them your campaign. Journalists are always looking for interesting, current and newsworthy stories.

Let them know specifically what you are campaigning for and why it is vital that girls and women are better represented in the media. For example:

  • Sexualisation and objectification undermines women’s authority and leadership
  • The entertainment and media that is consumed by girls and young women should encourage their aspirations – not limit them
  • Positive representation and role models have a huge effect on girls’ ambitions and self-esteem
  • More girls and women should become content makers and producers, so more authentic stories are being told. To do this, harassment and discrimination in these industries must be tackled.
     

It’s time to #RewriteHerStory

On October 1st we are launching #RewriteHerStory to call for better representation of girls and women in the media.

We want you to tell the world what annoys you most about girls and women’s representation in the media and share a gif of a scene or character you wish could be re-written. Tag @PlanInternational (Instagram) or @PlanGlobal (Twitter) and don’t forget to use #RewriteHerStory.

get involved

 

bACK TO ACTIVIST HUB