SPARK Summit: Ending the Sexualization of Girls

SPARK stands for Sexualization, Protest, Action, Resistance, Knowledge: “It is a day to speak out, push back on the sexualization of girls, and have fun while igniting a movement for girls’ rights to healthy sexuality. SPARK Summit will jumpstart a movement for change.”

The SPARK Summit was, without a doubt, an eye-opening experience.  I learned a lot about the sexualization of girls in the media as well as how to prevent it from continuing.  More so, I learned how to acknowledge when an ad or TV show sexualizes women and to raise awareness surrounding it.  While in the “Flipcam Media” workshop with Shelby Knox, we were split into groups with fellow young people. We were told to film our answers to three questions.  These questions were:

  • Why is it important to you to end the sexualization of girls in the media?
  • What traits/hobbies make you a real girl who is different from the image the media portrays of girls?
  • What are you being for Halloween?

In my group, I encountered an incredibly confident and eloquent girl.  She seemed like any of the other attendees, except she was eleven years old.  Upon interviewing her, she spoke about the way her friends suffered from the images they received from the media and how she was sick of it.  It was amazing to talk to this young girl, seemingly there alone, who cared so much about her friends.  She said that many of them were afraid of becoming fat and some suffered from eating disorders.  She also said that they want to look like the people they see in the adds that literally bury them.  It was actually heart wrenching to realize that someone so young was so aware and so hurt by the media.  But this girl was strong, as she fought against sexy Halloween costumes, (her costume was the fictitious wife of Captain Hook), she knew that the messages she was receiving were wrong, and she was ready to battle them.

During the opening plenary, it was incredible to hear from Gina Davis, someone who I already looked up to, even before I knew her political stance.  I already loved her for her roles in Thelma and Louise and Beetle Juice, but after hearing her talk, I respect her even more.  She is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  I was completely inspired by the fact that she picks her roles depending on if they will be a fun or interesting character to play, never just for the money.  I also loved that she only depicts strong women with a strong mind.  She is certainly a good role model.

I also had a lot of fun at one of the art stations.  This specific station allowed you to create a collage with images taken from popular magazines that tend to be the worst offenders of sexualizing women. It is so great that a conference geared towards a political movement also offers a way for attendees to creatively channel their thoughts and make a political statement through art.

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