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How Hollywood can help improve young girls' self-esteem

A native of the storied coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, Julie Sprankles has been a lover of words her entire life. As a Southerner, she certainly has what her mama calls “the gift of gab.” When she’s not writing, Julie can be...

The entertainment industry needs to do better by young girls

Young girls today grapple with issues most of us never gave a moment's thought growing up and, sadly, many of these issues stem from the entertainment world. If Hollywood made the following four tweaks, it could make a world of difference in young girls' self-confidence.

1. Be more mindful of what's being modeled.

No, we aren't talking about the impossible standards set forth by the women strutting on catwalks, either (we'll get to that in a bit). We're talking about models of behavior: the way women in movies are often completely preoccupied with men. Or with how they compare to other women. This sends a message to young girls that their self-worth is tied to other people. Why not instead feature more women focused on their careers? And not in a negative "women who put their career first put their family last" kind of way but, rather, in an empowering way. Also, feature more women who are focused on helping others — not competing with them or belittling them.

2. Help girls find their "personal truth."

Each young girl has different strengths and unique facets of her personality. Dr. Phil calls this the "personal truth." In the movies, the leading lady — the starring role, the character who gets the guy — is often stunning. And, yes, all girls are beautiful... but not everyone is beautiful in the same way that Amber Heard or Leighton Meester is beautiful. Let's have more leading ladies like Mary Lynn Rajskub and Melissa McCarthy and Heather Matarazzo who are incredibly talented and beautiful in a way that is much more relatable to most girls. Let young girls know that being "the funny friend" or "the smart girl" doesn't mean they're relegated to a life in a supporting role. They can be the star, too.

3. Take a page from the playbook of Colin Firth's character in Bridget Jones's Diary.

It might be cliché, but young girls need to know that they can be loved... just as they are. By now, we've all seen one of the time-lapse videos floating around the internet that show an already beautiful model being transformed and given an otherworldly allure using photo-editing techniques that are the standard these days. If the public backlash over Vogue Photoshopping Lena Dunham showed us anything, it's that people are tired of the illusion — and we certainly don't want it wrapped in a pretty little package and shoved in the direction of our daughters. We want to see film and TV characters who are just as confident wearing no makeup as they are dressed to the nines.

4. Give the lady engineers the spotlight.

Or the female ad execs. Essentially, showcase the reality that women are moving more and more into male-dominated fields. The toy company GoldieBlox made major waves last year with a simple video (and engineering-based toys designed from the female perspective) aimed at inspiring the next generation of female thinkers. Young girls need to know that they really can go anywhere their dreams can take them. For that matter, it's high time we got a female president... even if she is fictional for now.

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