I have the great privilege to work with some amazing people in the arena of media literacy and child empowerment. Our voice is strong because it is a collective voice.

Understanding media literacy, marketing to children, the impact of gender stereotypes and sexualization, how to teach positive body image and self-esteem is no small task. Rarely do parenting magazines, family members or pediatricians explain this to parents, this is information we have to seek out for ourselves and our children. Here’s the thing — circumstances facing our kids today are serious and have the potential to be very damaging. We don’t have time for each family to reinvent the wheel. Below are the resources I used to get me to where I am today.


If all of this is brand new to you, how should you begin? Start like this:

1. Watch “Consuming Kids” and “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” by the Media Education Foundation

2. Read “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, Birth to Tween” by me!

3. Read “Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child & the New Consumer Culture” by Juliet Schor

4. Read “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein

5. Read “Achilles Effect” by Crystal Smith

Do you have time for some more crucial steps?

6. Watch “Miss Representation” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the “Killing Us Softly” series by Jean Kilbourne for a macro look at how this affects girls as they grow into women.

7. Watch “The Mask You Live In” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and “Boy to Men?” by Media Education Foundation

*tip: Many of the documentaries listed can by found on YouTube or your local library


Must reads for ALL parents:

  1. “So Sexy So Soon” by Diane Levin & Jean Kilbourne
  2. “Packaging Girlhood” and “Packaging Boyhood” by Sharon Lamb & Lyn Mikel Brown
  3. “Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls” by M. Gigi Durham
  4. “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein
  5. “Princess Recovery: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Daughter Who Can Create Her Own Happily Ever After” by Jennifer Hartstein
  6. “Bullied” by Carrie Goldman
  7. “The Gender Trap” by Email Kane
  8. “Achilles Effect” by Crystal Smith
  9. “Real Boys” by William Pollack
  10. “Raising Cain” by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
  11. “The Men They Will Become” by Eli Newberger
  12. “The Wonder of Boys” by Michael Gurian

More great media literacy & empowered kids reading:

  1. “The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women” by Naomi Wolf
  2. “Pink Brain, Blue Brain” by Lise Eliot
  3. “Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child & the New Consumer Culture” by Juliet Schor
  4. “The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World” by Susan Linn
  5. “Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism” by Natasha Walters
  6. “Think” by Lisa Bloom
  7. “Playborhood” by Mike Lanza
  8. “Free Range Kids” by Lenore Skenazy
  9. “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv
  10. “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” by Dr. Robyn Silverman
  11. “The Curse of the Good Girl” by Rachel Simmons
  12. “Queen Bees and Wannabees” and “Mastermind and Wingmen” by Rosalind Wiseman


Media Literacy Resources:

Ask the Mediatrician  Children’s Hospital Boston – Center on Media and Child Health   A power-hitting advocacy group keeping the gap between our kids and marketers.  Promotes media literacy programs in schools.   Long standing blog known for thorough deep dives into our culture and media literacy.  The Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media working within the entertainment industry to create change.  The Representation Project examines the role of gender in media.   Rates and reviews children’s media to education families and schools.  Research on how media impacts girls today. Fighting sexualization of girls and women. An education and advocacy based program teaching girls to critically examine media. Unpacking the gender stereotypes and sexualization our girls face. Discussing impact of gender stereotypes on boys and masculinity. Looks at girls in children’s television and film


I follow the work of these experts:

Lyn Mikel Brown – author and girl activist extraordianaire, founder of  Hardy Girls Healthy Women

Peggy Orenstein – Bestselling author, girl guru, fellow Midwesterner (once removed).

Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the Media – Research non-profit started by actor Geena Davis when she realized how very few girls were in the media.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom – Creative force behind Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In

Amy Jussel – Media & Marketing Expert Analyst, shoots straight from the hip.

Melinda Tankard Reist – Author, founder of Collective Shout, and one of my favorite Australians.

Jess Weiner – bestselling author, speaker, Dove Global Ambassador. Preaches the gospel of self esteem.

Nancy Gruver – creator of New Moon Girls magazine and online community for girls, parent educator at Midwest holla!

Dr. Michele Borba – Parenting expert and author of 319 books. Just kidding, only 23.

Sue Scheff – Parenting advocate, author, and expert on kids and digital citizenship.

Dr. Robyn Silverman – Author, child development expert specializing in body image in young people.

Rosalind Wiseman – Amazing author, speaker, and educator Creating Cultures of Dignity.

Rachel Simmons – Girl expert and author, creator of Girls Leadership Institute.

Dr. Jen Shewmaker – Professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University and blogger at Operation Transformation.

Elena from The Illusionists – Film maker of documentary “The Illusionists”, excellent follow for women’s media literacy.

Jackson Katz – Expert on masculinity in America

Joe Kelly – Author and expert on being an amazing father, specifically to girls.

Other people we refer to and draw inspiration from daily: SheHeroes, Sanford Harmony Program, Women You Should KnowAdios Barbie, Feminist Fatale, Ms. Magazine,  Dr. Dae Sheridan,  and Women’s Media Center