How to Help Your Daughter Be a #REALMEDIAGIRL Online

Amanda Mozea
March 25, 2021

Being Authentic Online…

...is one of the scariest things you can ask a girl to do. You’d probably have just as much luck asking her to get rid of her social media altogether. And, if we stop and think about it, her response (“No way!”) makes sense. Trust me, as the Education Outreach Manager of MEDIAGIRLS, I work with girls and teens for a living. 

The pressure that we all experienced at some point in our lives to fit in, be “normal,” and emulate popularity is now constant. The pressure to look and act a certain way was once limited to public spaces like school. Now? That pressure exists at all hours. I would argue that it has even intensified. 

On social media, girls often post heavily edited and heavily staged photos and videos. It’s a highlight reel of all things wonderful in their lives. Candids are not candid. Poses accentuate curves, crop tops convey a touch of sexiness, makeup and hair are done just right. Dozens of photos are taken and favorites are selected and then filtered. Posting one picture is a process that can take hours. 

After a post goes live, girls chuck their phones across the room or constantly refresh to see the validation of likes pile up. But, if, after all of that, the likes don’t add up? The post gets deleted in a matter of minutes.

So, yes, being authentic online is one of the scariest things you can ask a girl to do today. But, we’re going to ask it of her anyways.

What Is a #REALMEDIAGIRL?

We at MEDIAGIRLS believe that social media should be an extension of girls’ whole and authentic selves. To do this we created the #REALMEDIAGIRL campaign to highlight and celebrate people using their social media to be real for a change. A #REALMEDIAGIRL is someone who knows her true self-worth and uses her social media to: 

  1. Be her real self 
  2. Speak up for what she believes in 
  3. Lift up other girls

Some examples of a #REALMEDIAGIRL are Jameela Jamil, Stacey Abrams, and Demi Lovato. Though in different fields, these women all use their social media platforms to unapologetically be themselves and raise awareness for causes that they care about. When we strive to be a #REALMEDIAGIRL, this is what we mean. Instagram with a purpose, TikTok with authenticity, social media with humanity.

Helping Your Girl Be a #REALMEDIAGIRL

Now that we understand what social media currently looks like for girls and have a vision of what we want it to look like for them in the future, let’s answer the big question: how do we begin to get from where we are to where we want to go?

Asking Questions

First, we need to build up girls’ ability to critically consume media. In other words, we need to help girls see patterns in what is being posted online and, just as importantly, what is not being posted online. 

How do we do this? By asking questions! 

No matter how observant your girl is, she has become accustomed to seeing only certain kinds of images on social media–certain kinds of beauty, poses, certain kinds of outfits, captions, etc. So, like it or not, she has internalized these images as a command: this is how you should behave on social media. Asking questions and having conversations about social media will help break down the illusion that just because things are a certain way on social media does not mean that they have to be this way.

Some Questions to Ask Your Girl:

  • What do you see the most online right now? Do you notice any patterns in how people are looking or acting?
  • Are you seeing diverse people on your social media–people of all different body types and races, for example–or is your feed pretty homogeneous? 
  • Do you think everyone’s lives are as perfect as they look on social media? What about the life that you show on social media?
  • When you post on social media how do you feel? Why?
  • When you log off of social media, how do you feel? Do you ever compare yourself to the people you see on social media? Do you think other people might compare themselves to your life on social media?

(Bonus points if you ask to see your girl’s social media and can talk about specific examples–without judgement, of course!)

Taking Action

Once your girl begins to realize that her social media could really use a boost of authenticity, it’s time to take action. 

Some Actions Your Girl Can Start to Take:

  • Following accounts of people who post like a #REALMEDIAGIRL!
  • Posting more authentic stories (baby steps!) about an important social justice cause, for example.
  • Posting unedited photos showing what she has truly been up to. 
  • Not using filters.
  • Turning off notifications from social media apps to lessen anxiety around likes and comments when posting.
  • Setting an intention when logging onto social media (I want to see the messages my friends sent me, for example).

Don’t Expect Change Overnight

In the end, we can’t expect the online behavior of our girls to change overnight. But, by asking questions and beginning to take action, we can start our girls on the path to becoming a #REALMEDIAGIRL online. If you’re interested in getting your girl involved in our programming, act now!

Written by

Amanda Mozea

Amanda graduated from Harvard College, where she concentrated in Social Studies with a focus field titled “Racial Inequality in Contemporary America” and a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. Amanda is a firm believer in the power of media to enact change.