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I can’t fault brands for keeping the spotlight on these important cultural issues, but many ads employing female-empowering messages, especially the beauty brands, seem to be simply couching their backward-thinking messages in new packaging. For example, Pantene’s “Not Sorry” ad, which has over 13 million views on YouTube, tells women to stop apologizing, assert their strength, and refuse to downplay their opinions and expertise—a meaningful and important message. But it all comes back to beauty, as the description of the ad explains, “When you’re strong on the inside, you shine on the outside. And that’s a beautiful thing.” Along the same lines, Dove’s “Movement for Self-Esteem” seemed to be singularly based on helping young girls boost confidence by making them “feel beautiful”: the brand supported its program with a survey concluding that only 4 percent of women worldwide considered themselves beautiful and, of the 1,200 girls ages 10-17 in the survey, about 11 percent of girls felt comfortable using the word beautiful to describe their appearances. I’m inclined to say “So what? What percent of those girls would use the word smart, fierce, talented, etc, to describe themselves? That seems like a more important measurement of their confidence.”

My point is this: Dove and Pantene continue to equate the pursuit of beauty with the pursuit of happiness and confidence, making a direct connection with exterior appearances and interior fulfillment. According to their ads, “looking confident” and “feeling beautiful” are really half the battle. A woman’s appearance is still a critical component of her strength and authority, and there’s nothing empowering about that message.

What to Make of “Female Empowerment” Marketing | Women’s Media Center (via becauseiamawoman)

behind-the-book:

High School Reading List

Back in May, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign lit a fire to fulfill the desperate need for diverse books in children’s literature. Behind the Book has always championed efforts to find diverse authors and protagonists that will appeal to students since we serve communities of color. For your enjoyment (and enrichment), we’ve created an epic list of diverse books to reflect the diversity in our city; here’s our list for high school students.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Drown by Junot Diaz

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

The Living by Matt De La Peña, a Behind the Book author

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: a Novel by Nadia Hashimi

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

The Book of Unknown Americans: a Novel by Cristina Henríquez

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

For descriptions, click the read more!

(Click the following links to be directed to the Kindergarten, (early) Elementary and Middle School lists)

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