Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sexism. Stereotypes. Ignorance. #NotBuyingIt

This holiday season, apart from buying local and scouring for last-minute bargains, many shoppers are on the prowl for other deal-breakers: degrading messages.

Earlier this year, the documentary Miss Representation played at the Sundance Film Festival. It spoke about the false idea which girls today have come to know - that they must rely on their looks and sexuality to be accepted. But the people behind the film have worked to get their voices heard in other ways. As an organization, focuses largely on erasing labels and empowering women, and have started the Twitter hashtag #NotBuyingIt to raise awareness over brands, products, and advertisements which negatively distort women. The project was inspired by Girls For a Change, an organization that provides resources to help girls create social change.

Recently, major companies have altered products or taglines due to public complaints surrounding gender stereotypes. In September, JcPenny pulled a girl's shirt with the words "I'm too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me." The tee was targeted for 7-16 year olds. Shortly thereafter, Forever 21 discontinued the sale of a shirt which read "Allergic To Algebra." For weeks, has encouraged shoppers to report back on similarly offensive sweaters, coffee mugs, calendars, posters, and store displays. Their #NotBuyingIt project is intended to build on the recent media awareness in advertising.

December 12th tweet: "Why does offer office & travel gifts for only men? No suggestions for prof women #NotBuyingIt"

December 18th tweet: "Just saw a mug with a 50s housewife saying 'medicated and motivated' #NotBuying It"

The cause, however, is not just about a Macy's sweatshirt or a winter boot ad - hopes to move our society in a new direction. "We've already heard from mothers in New York who've had billboards removed and young people everywhere who are creating media literacy clubs at their schools," the company's blog states. "These actions are making a difference and building momentum towards shirting our entire culture."

If you see misrepresentations of women during holiday shopping, please post to #NotBuyingIt. Let's raise awareness!

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