2011: A Successful Year for Social Media Activism and Proof of Progress

by Pia Guerrero, Co-Editor and Founder

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland, Journalist

Ringing in the New Year has always been marked with promises to do or be better than the year before–quit smoking, exercise more, be more social…lose weight. And while our new year’s resolutions my be different, we have one thing in common–we rarely stick to them.

This year parents, bloggers, and activists collectively yelled a virtual “NO Mas!” to media bias, lack of representation, and the hypersexualization and objectification of women  and girls.  So instead of making resolutions for 2012, we decided to review the many accomplishments made in 2011 through social media activism, which was leveraged to improve the representation of women and girls in the media, to hold corporations accountable, and to use our collective voice to make real change.


Adios, Barbie’s Top 10 Hits from 2011

#1 In March, Sociological Images outed Abercrombie Kids for selling a “push-up” bikini top for girls ages 7 and up. Just one week later, as a result of public outrage, Abercrombie took out the cleavage enhancing phrase “push up” and replaced it with the more innocent “triangle.” Then took they pulled the product off the site and eventually decided to market it to girls 12 and over. (Not a huge improvement, but a step in the right direction.)









#2 In May, the petition site Change.org announced that The San Francisco Giants would make an “It Gets Better” video to help fight homophobia.

“After several incidents revealing rampant homophobia in sports, more than 6,500 fans, and four candidates for San Francisco mayor, signed a Change.org petition started by baseball fan Sean Chapin, asking the San Francisco Giants to make an “It Gets Better” video against anti-gay bullying.

“Now the Giants have announced that they are planning to become the first pro men’s sports team — in the four major American sports — to make an “It Gets Better” video.”

#3 In January, Adios Barbie paired up with author and activist Melinda Tankard Reist to create a petition targeted at MTV and Universal Music Group (UMG) to prevent the mass release to youth of the misogynistic portrayals in Kanye West’s “Monster” video being touted as art, with the support of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia, Collective Shout, Amanda Kloer of Change.org, and Samer Rabadi of the Petition Site by Care2.com.

In June, MTV and VH1 publicly stated they would not air Kanye West’s “Monster” video. The video was released on Kanye’s site opened with, “The following content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and shall be taken as such.”






#4 Also in June, The American Medical Association called for advertisers to end the practice of photoshopping model’s bodies into unrealistic and unattainable faces and figures.





#5 A month later in the U.K., the Advertising Standards Authority banned L’Oreal cosmetics ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington because the company used Photoshop to bolster the claim that the products would make you look younger.

#6 In August, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly shared on her facebook page a link to a JCPenny shirt for girls that read “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me.” This led to a social media uproar and a petition that successfully pressured JCPenny to apologize and pull the shirt from its website.






#7  September marked another victory. After eating disorder and health experts expressed dismay over the unfunny “Anna Rexia” costume sold at Ricky’s Beauty and Costume store in New York, they stopped carrying it.










#8 In December, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board pulled an ad aimed at curbing excessive drinking that instead blamed women for getting date raped. The board made their decision after hundreds of victims of rape told them that the ads were offensive and traumatizing.







#9 Also, in December, according the Business Times:

“Procter & Gamble has agreed to never again run an ad for its CoverGirl mascara because it used “enhanced post-production” and “photoshopping” to make eyelashes look thicker than they were in real life. P&G agreed to the ban even though it disclosed in the ad that the image was enhanced.”

#10 This year was a cause for celebration as Peggy Orenstein’s book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Thousands of folks read and learned about how commercialism and the omnipresent pink princess culture denies girls the opportunity to explore the unique interests, abilities and ideas that build healthy identities and goals.

Related Content:

A Monster Success!

Endangered Species: Challenging Body Beautiful Culture

In the Name of Girls: The AMA Calls for Magazine Ads to End Photoshopping Bodies


4 thoughts on “2011: A Successful Year for Social Media Activism and Proof of Progress

  1. Reading about all of these is so cheering. We might have a long way to go but this is proof it can happen. Thanks, Adios Barbie, for working so hard to be part of the change!

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