Why support SPARK? Stephanie Cole, SPARKteam alumna, explains:
SPARK is essential because it facilitates the alternative voices that girls living in our media saturated culture need to hear. The popular consensus that I was exposed to as a little girl was that sexism was a thing of the past, and women had already achieved equality. The media went on to convince me that the healthy and correct way of exercising my “independence” was through my sexuality, or rather a version of female sexuality as defined by the media. This is the environment that most young women and girls still reside in. As I grew into a young teen, I never heard a single voice questioning the images of women I saw in magazines, in film, and on television. I therefore assumed that I was the only one who felt uncomfortable with them. In middle school, my self-esteem plummeted and by my senior year, I had developed an eating disorder. When I discovered SPARK, I knew that I wanted to use my skills to be that alternative voice that I had once so desperately needed.
SPARK is necessary because it provides girls with the space and resources to demand that media representing women and girls as nothing more than objects to be desired should not be normalized or tolerated.
The proven emotional and psychological threat that negative media poses for young girls is often swept under the rug, but SPARK is one of the few spaces in which it is focused on, and it is one of the few spaces where action is taken against negative media. Most importantly, SPARK is a girl fueled movement. SPARK empowers girls by encouraging us to recognize our power to inspire change on our own behalf and on behalf of our friends, sisters and community.
The positive effect that SPARK has had on my personal and professional growth is immeasurable. I have gained professional skills applicable to multiple career paths, and I have been part of a beautiful community of intelligent and committed young feminists.The brilliance of my fellow SPARK members, ranging from middle school girls to recent college graduates like me, dispels any notion of disengaged “post-feminists.
Seeing SPARK girls like Julia, Emma and Carina speak out about the sexualization of girls on major media venues like Good Morning America, Fox News and The New York Times, inspires an entire generation of girls to see that we have the power to make change.
I experienced firsthand how harmful sexualization can be. The existence of alternative, supportive voices like SPARK is essential. I believe that by participating in SPARK as one of those voices, I am helping to realize a world in which no one puts the well being of girls in jeopardy in order to sell a product.