One Tweet at a Time" />
The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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One Tweet at a Time

One Tweet at a Time

Girls from around the world try to change the portrayal of women in the media

What if everything you read on Twitter was supportive and uplifting? What if every advertisement you saw was the real girl, not a photoshopped semblance?

Eleven girls from around the world (as far as Australia) are using social media to try to make a change on the way women are portrayed in the media. They started their work at the International Girls Forum, held at Hockaday this summer alongside the National Coalition of Girls Schools Annual Conference, both of which took place June 25-27. The result was the OneTweet4Girls Campaign.

KNIT TOGETHER Hockaday seniors Ashley (bottom) and Megan (right) join Anna (left) from the Philippines and Noella (center) from Rwanda at the Ernesto Neto exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Photo provided by Megan

The NCGS is an organization consisting of approximately 200 all-girl private and public schools, most of which are located in the U.S. and Canada. Each year, faculty and staff representatives from all of these schools attend the national conference to network and look in depth that year’s theme. However, NCGS is also affiliated with groups of girl’s schools in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and various African countries. The IGF, a concept borrowed from these other countries, was incorporated into the activities of the adult conference less than ten years ago and even mirrors the adult conference’s theme, which this year was Educating Media Savvy Girls.

Hockaday seniors Laura Brynn, Ashley and Megan were selected through an application process to attend the IGF and were joined by girls from the Philippines, Canada, Rwanda, Australia and New Zealand. Most of the visitors stayed with the Hockaday girls at their homes. The Canadians girls, Michelle and Elizabeth, stayed in a hotel with a teacher who was attending the NCGS conference. During the three days, nine speakers presented to both the adult conference attendees and the eleven high school girls, but when “break-out sessions” of discussion were held, the girls had private meetings as a separate forum.

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Melissa Allan, Communications Director at Hockaday, organized the IGF from Hockaday’s end. “The purpose of the program is to bring these girls together from around the world and to let them take part in this conference and let them be part of this conversation.”

When the high school students separated from the NCGS conference, Jess Weiner led discussions about body image. Weiner is an “authority on girls and body image and all kinds of things,” according to Allan.

Before the conference, Weiner, who helped create the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, sent all the girls an assignment: video two women or girls in your life and ask them “what body part tells the story of your life?”

This question, said Laura Brynn, proved more difficult to answer than she expected, but the discussion it prompted guided the group’s activities throughout the rest of the conference.

“We learned a lot about women in the media and about loving your body because when you’re asking that question, you are really asking someone ‘what part of your body do you like?’ And that’s hard a lot of the time,” Laura Brynn said. “We can very easily be like ‘here’s the part of my body that I don’t like.”

Because the topics of the International Girls Forum and the NCGS Conference were the same, the girls compiled their videos and used them to give a presentation about everything they had learned to all the conference participants.

For anyone wishing to understand some of the discussions at the conference and forum, Laura Brynn recommends watching the film Miss Representation. At the Nasher Sculpture Center June 26, the entire conference and forum watched a private screening of the film. Its writer, director and producer Jennifer Siebel Newsom discussed her film with the attendees as part of the conference the following day.

The film was “fantastic,” Laura Brynn said. Focusing on how women are portrayed in the media, it “was really great because it sort of opened our eyes to some obstacles that women could face, or how because we’re women, things are portrayed differently.”

For example, she said, Robin Meedes, who has her own news show, spoke about viewers who don’t want to watch her because she’s not girly or sexy enough with her short hair and suits. The film also included clips of women in the newsroom wearing low cut shirts doing improvisation dances. Men wouldn’t do this, Laura Brynn said; women have to do it to get interest in their shows.

From the school’s perspective, the conference is always useful from more perspectives than just the educational, said Cathy Murphree, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs and Provost.

“The biggest benefit for me is to network with my colleagues,” said Murphree after attending the conference. “I think it’s important that the people that work in girls’ schools really have a strong network to really get out the message in a really good way how important it is to have girls schools and how much our girls gain from that.”

Still, for the girls at the International Girls Forum, the takeaway was their #onetweet campaign. Each day, the girls post something positive about women or retweet a strong message from a famous personality. This way, girls will have positive examples of media to combat the negative ones they see every day. They’re trying to get the #onetweet trending to bring awareness to the issues they learned about.

In the words of Murphree, “the biggest impact for this particular conference was this whole idea of girls in the media and the whole wellness piece of girls learning to be good digital citizens… to be reminded again about how important it is to teach a lot of those skills, that’s probably my biggest takeaway.”

-Emily

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