Other Choices: About-Face.org, Project Girl, I Was Wondering
Synopsis: Nonprofit site fights the media's objectification of girls.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that SPARK is a nonprofit organization that aims to fight the sexualization of girls in media and culture. A few topics might seem a bit edgy for younger teens (like vaginal plastic surgery), but these posts are clearly intended to educate and critique, not to titillate. Readers can post comments.
- Families can talk about body image issues. What role does the media play in determining how girls and women view their bodies? Do your kids know that "perfect"-looking models and celebs are often Photoshopped?
- How are men and women portrayed differently in the media? Think about the questions reporters ask male vs. female public figures (how often are the men asked what kind of diet they went on or who designed their clothes?)
What's the story?
SPARK stands for Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge. The nonprofit organization's website includes a blog that critiques problematic media messages, plus a second blog that's dedicated to explaining relevant research studies to the layperson. The Take Action and SPARKit! sections give girls ideas of things they can do to spread the message, from attending SPARK Summits to speaking out against gender stereotypes in stores.
Is it any good?
SPARK's blogs feature smart critiques of the media's representation of girls, and its reports on successful actions (like petitioning teen magazines to limit their use of photo-retouching software) show that speaking out really can make a difference. SPARK's website isn't as splashy as some of its sister sites, but the organization's mission is rock solid.
The Good Stuff
Messages: SPARK encourages girls to become activists and fight harmful media messages.
What to watch out for
Violence Not an issue
Sex: The site deals with some issues related to sex and sexuality, like the trend of vaginal plastic surgery.
Language: SPARK examines the use of the word "bitch" in a blog post, and "damn" is used occasionally.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue