Professor advocates for different depictions of girls in media

Posted August 10, 2013

Psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker and a group of businesses, not-for-profit organizations, authors, activists, artists and educators founded the Brave Girls Alliance with the purpose of advocating for more positive and complex depictions of girls in media and marketing. The Brave Girls Alliance uses proactive campaigns to encourage media creators to promote girls who are strong, intelligent and adventurous, rather than current stereotypical images of girls focusing on sexuality and appearances.

“Research tells us that girls who consume sexualized and objectifying media feel worse about themselves and tend to act on that through excessive dieting and other negative behaviors,” says Shewmaker. “But research also shows that when children and adolescents consume media with responsible social messages, media can be a positive force in their lives.”

Shewmaker specializes in school psychology and writes a blog about media literacy exploring sexualized media messages aimed at children. Her research motivated her to help found the Brave Girls Alliance, and she incorporates this research into her teaching at ACU.  

“I think it's important for our students at ACU to see that our research and the learning we do in class extends way beyond theory,” adds Shewmaker. “We can use the things we learn to make a positive difference in the world. I hope all students who leave my classes learn to see themselves as world changers.”

The Brave Girls Alliance’s first campaign calls on the creators of LEGOs to produce more female character mini-figures. The campaign petition is posted on, where it has received more than 15,000 signatures. The campaign also advocates for toy creators to break with female stereotypes, offering more career-focused female characters such as scientists, astronauts or doctors. 

Learn more about the Brave Girls Alliance


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