How to Protect Girls from Harmful Movies, TV Shows and Books (Without Taking Anything Away)

 

Girls today are inundated with media (TV shows, movies and books) that reinforce stereotypes and can be harmful to them. Luckily there are things you can do to limit the negative impact of media on girls. Today we’re talking about one of the easiest things you can do—balance things out by including media that’s good for girls.

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The last thing we want is for girls to internalize some of the stereotypes that are popular in media today. (Like anything that emphasizes physical appearance, being sexy, focusing on superficial things like shopping/clothes, etc.) Common Sense Media recommends balancing these things by exposing girls to media that shows girls/women acting in a way that is not stereotypical. When you do this, it can shake up the idea that girls are supposed to act a certain way, and show them that more is possible.

How to find “helpful” media

To counter stereotypes, look for media that shows girls doing things like playing sports, experiencing the outdoors, and engaging in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.

Finding good media takes some effort, but there are some great resources that can make it easier. If you’re curious about a particular TV show, movie or book, try looking it up in Common Sense Media’s database. The database provides detailed ratings that show how good/bad it is from a role model/representation perspective, if you need to be concerned about “sexy stuff” or consumerism, and more. If you’re looking for ideas for TV shows, movies and books, we recommend browsing A Mighty Girl’s lists, then getting more info about your picks from Common Sense Media.

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Our favorite TV shows, movies & books

Here are a few of our favorites to get you started.

TV Shows

Peg + Cat

We love how this show depicts a girl doing math and weaves math into the storyline. There’s an emphasis on numbers, counting and basic math. And a cat!

Nella the Princess Knight

The positive role model in this show (Nella, a princess who is also a knight) is the main draw. She gives girls an opportunity to see a girl wearing armor, acting bravely and saving the day.

Movies

Moana

Moana is about a girl that tries to save her people, all on her own. It’s great for showing how strong and independent girls can be.

Movies are really tough—we weren’t able to find another one we were excited enough about to recommend.

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Books

In contrast to movies, there are a bunch of amazing books out there for girls. We love:

Rosie Revere, Engineer

This book’s been out for a while now, but we LOVE it. It’s creative, spirited, well-written and depicts a girl engineering a contraption of her own. If you already have this book, there are more in the series, and they’re great too.

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer

This book features ten women leaders (amazing role models), with an illustration and brief summary of what made each of them remarkable. Trailblazers include Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, and Coco Chanel.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Hopscotch Girls activity books. Our books are very intentionally crafted to depict strong female role models, reinforce a healthy body image, inspire confidence, and encourage STEM skills.

It takes some effort, but we can balance things out for girls.


Source: Common Sense Media: Watching Gender: How Stereotypes in Movies and on TV Impact Kids' Development

 
Melissa Foley