Why Should I Care About Diversity in Media?

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Does it matter what you watch on TV?

Does it matter if your kids have role models in media?

Does watching movies with diverse casts, with diverse groups of directors, with diverse messages make a difference?

Yes, yes and yes.

Even for those of us who aren’t huge movie buffs, or TV fanatics – we are all influenced by media in one way or another.  Maybe it’s traditional print media, billboards, YouTube, Netflix – whatever – it’s hard to escape media’s influence.  And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  What IS bad is when the media you are consuming isn’t reflective of who you really are.  Instead it’s full of stereotypes or unhealthy (physically and psychologically) portrayals of people you identify with.  Here are a few examples:

  • TV and print commercials focusing solely on female’s looks (or cleaning abilities) as a way to identify them
  • TV sitcoms portraying a large proportion of men as lazy, selfish, and intellectually inferior to their wives
  • Movies including women in only supporting roles to more powerful men
  • TV, movies and print media encouraging cultural/racial/ethnic stereotypes by type-casting actors

The list could go on and on.

Why should you care?  Because media matters.  And when we see stereotypes reinforced over and over again, they become more ingrained in all of our brains  – even if we don’t want them to! And in our increasingly diverse world, it’s important for us to get past stereotypes and see each other (and ourselves) for the unique individuals we are.  Nobody’s mental health is improved by narrowly defining ourselves and others.  Understanding and accepting diversity (again, in ourselves and others) is a key piece of overall psychological health.

So, now what?

I am excited to announce that I have joined with Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media in their partnership to shed light on global news stories highlighting women.  Follow along and be a part of the news coverage that will change the lives of women.  You can also follow the stories #womenslives

Want to know more about diversity, psychology and why any of it matters?  Check out this FANTASTIC video made by psychologist Dr. Ali Mattu:

 

Technology and Mental Health

I am excited to share the footage of the television program I was a part of earlier this week: Studio 12 What’s New in High Tech.  I had a great time hearing from Denver Post writer Andy Vuong and Google Glass expert Rob Rusher about all the cool new gadgets available.  (Who knew you you could program your sprinkler from your phone?)  I provided some insights into how technology affects our mental health, including our social and emotional well-being.

Host Tamara Banks was smart, warm and delightful – I felt right at home in the studio!

Click on the photo below to watch the segment (caution: it’s a hour long)!

Thanks for having me Colorado Public Television – I hope I get to come back soon!

Girl Power, Continued

Photo by Keds

Photo by Keds

Looks like Keds and Taylor Swift are on the Girl Power bandwagon along with Covergirl. I love Taylor (and Keds are pretty cute, too) and even though I’m not sure that dying one’s hair a new color counts as “brave” I still like the message. Take a look:

Everyone’s mental health, self esteem and confidence improves when we encourage each other to aim high and be who we truly are.

Missed my last post about girl power? Check it out here.

#girlpower

6 Steps to Becoming a Content Woman

Do you know any content, happy women?

I know…no one is happy or content all the time.  But what I mean is, do you know any women you admire?  Look up to? Want to emulate? Learn from? Spend the day with?gerberas

I know a few.  And I’m not talking about women who just look good.  The ladies I’m talking about are the ones who seem happy, content and rarely frazzled.   They enjoy their children and partners (if they have them), and the other people and activities in their lives.  The women I admire have very different styles, religious persuasions, socioeconomic statuses and backgrounds.  Some of the women I admire are friends, others are friends of my mom’s, others I know even more distantly.

Here’s what these content women have in common:

They take time for themselves, without apology.  Whether it’s taking time to read, volunteer, quilt, workout or spend time with friends – the most “perfect” women carve out time – on a regular basis – for themselves.  They realize that in order to give to the people in their lives (their children, their partners, their co-workers) they need to be re-charged and filled up themselves.

They are engaged in something bigger than themselves.  The world is a big place, but sometimes we forget that.  By becoming involved in an organization or cause bigger than ourselves (church, environmental group, political cause, philanthropic organization) we get perspective on our own lives, problems and worries.

They limit media consumption.  Television, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, glossy magazines – they can be fun.  But they are sort of like donuts or whipped cream: fluffy confections meant to be consumed in small doses and only occasionally.  Any more often, and they become harmful and can literally weigh you down.  The women I admire recognize this.  They may glance at media periodically, but realize  that its potential negative effects must be carefully monitored.

They treat their bodies with respect. None of the women I admire are beauty queens, but they do care for their bodies – probably realizing that their health and well-being are big parts of what allow them to care for others.  Good food, regular activity and adequate sleep are all important pieces of respecting their bodies.  Regular haircuts and  clothes that fit their body and style may be a part of this too.

They are picky about how they spend their time.  Time is money whether you are a stay at home mom, an attorney or a taxi driver.  The problem is, most of us don’t treat it as such.  The women I admire are extremely frugal about how (and with whom!) they spend their time.  Not that they don’t relax – they do! – but they are planful and careful about how they do it.  They consider invitations before automatically saying yes (or no), are selective (but not snobby) about who they socialize with and rarely run around town (or their homes) without purpose.  They realize that their time and attention is valuable and budget it just as they would their finances.

They don’t complain about other women.  The idea for this article was born after reading some nasty articles – written by women – complaining about other women and how they earned their money, spent their time and raised their kids.  Upon reflection, I realized that I have rarely heard the women I admire complain or gossip about other women.  Whether they have these thoughts and bite their tongues, or have no critical thoughts at all, I’m not sure.  But either way I admire their focus on positive things that they can actually control.

 

 

Outsmarting Hunger, Men’s Health Style

One of the funnest things about my job is that I get to talk to the media.  This week has been a particularly interesting week in regards to interviews.  I shared this “buyer beware” story that came out a couple days ago.  Today I’m sharing another.

First let me give you a little background:

When I am contacted by a reporter, they usually say something like: “Hi Dr. Smith, I am doing a story on _______ and I have a couple of questions for you.  Do you have time to answer?”  To which I usually say: “Sure!”

After the interview is completed (sometimes on the phone, sometimes in person, sometimes via email) the reporter gives me an idea of when the story will come out – to which I say: “Great! Can’t wait to hear/read/watch it!”

Then comes the tricky part…waiting and hoping my quotes come out OK and that I don’t sound like:

  • I have no idea what I’m talking about
  • an arrogant jerk
  • a psychobabbling psychologist who isn’t helping anyone do anything other than role their eyes

OK…on to the story at hand.

I spoke to a reporter for Men’s Health Magazine a couple of months ago.  His questions were about late-night hunger and overall healthy eating.  He had lots of questions and I (of course) had lots of answers.  Well, my answers got boiled down to the following blurb:

Outsmart Hunger: Men's Health Magazine  August 2013

Outsmart Hunger: Men’s Health Magazine August 2013

 

Not a bad tip – who doesn’t like frozen treats?  Sure, I would’ve liked for a few more of my very wise words to be included in the article – but that’s the fun of it!  You never know what will end up in print for all the world to read!

In case you were wondering, I couldn’t find an electronic version of this story – but here’s the cover story on Joe Manganiello from the August 2013 issue.