Hardy Girls: The Research



Hardy Girls’ programming and resources are fueled by current research in girls’ development and education, particularly that of cofounder Lyn Mikel Brown, Colby professor of education. Brown has authored or coauthored four books including Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection Among Girls (New York University Press, 2003) and Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes, (St. Martin’s Press, 2006).

The American Psychology Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls recently found “evidence of negative consequences for girls when they are sexualized or exposed to sexualized images.” Today’s youth spend nearly eight hours a day engaged with some sort of media, according to Brown, and children and teens are bombarded with sexualized images and products. Movies and videos portray young women—and even young girls—in compromising or provocative roles. Advertisements use scantily clad models to sell everything from jeans to soft drinks to cars. Marketers promote such products as padded bras for toddlers and a pole-dancing Barbie.

These products and images narrowly define who girls should be, emphasizing looks, clothing—and attractiveness to boys, critics say. This exposure to “sensationalized media and narrow gender roles,” according to Brown and Hardy Girls Executive Director Megan Williams ’04, “contributes to three of young women’s most common mental health complaints: depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.”

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  • On February 28, 2011, Mary Duffy wrote:
    The message that girls and women are capable, strong, and complete by themselves, not just the sum of their eyeliner, lip gloss, and how attractive they are to boys and men needs to be brought to young girls of all races and economic classes...and to young men too... As a teacher in a private coed middle school, I see many young girls who have a strong sense of themselves in the younger grades but who start to see themselves much differently by sixth, seventh, and eighth grade...many who lose interest in their studies and hobbies and who acquiesce to their male classmates..We need the Hardy Girls, Healthy Girls curriculum in all schools... I also hope your organization can groom some very strong lobbyists to scream in Washington's ear.... Good luck.. Mary D.