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Published: 8 Oct 2013

New York City’s Girls Project & Feminist Rebranding


Teenage girls are the targets of a new public health campaign in New York called the NYC Girls Project, which aims to reduce the low self-esteem often experienced by this demographic at a crucial stage of development in their lives.

As the first major city-wide campaign tackling concerns over female body image, the $330,000 project features outdoor advertising, free exercise classes and inspiring after-school programmes. The brainchild of Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy press secretary Samantha Levine, the NYC Girls Project will work to minimise “the risk of negative body images that lead to eating disorders, drinking, acting out sexually, suicide and bullying”. Evidence suggests teenage girls are afraid of weight gain and dissatisfied with their bodies.

Advertising for the campaign showcases a diverse group of girls participating in activities such as sports and reading, overlaid with the slogan: “I am a girl, I’m beautiful the way I am.” The hashtag #ImAGirl encourages girls to express their positive attributes on Twitter.

Similar branded initiatives such as the L’Oreal Girls in Science campaign and the launch of traditionally masculine educational toys for girls like Goldie Blox are helping to inspire women in the early stages of their education and development.

Elsewhere, the “rebranding of feminism” is under way thanks to Elle Magazine in conjunction with the team behind popular feminist blog, The Vagenda. The challenge to bring feminism to a wider audience and to promote the notion that “feminism is for everyone” saw the UK outposts of global advertising agencies Wieden + Kennedy, Mother and Brave produce a number of witty graphics to sit alongside the November 2013 UK issue of Elle. Gender stereotypes are criticised in the aggressive graphics, which urge women to question their roles in society and how they are being perceived (see them here). The accompanying hashtag #IAmAWomanAnd similarly allows women to promote their qualities over social media.

Such efforts highlight the need for brands to assess the way they market to women, and how they might be able to inspire them to break away from their stereotyped societal roles. Read more about this in the Future Female industry trend.

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