NYC PSA Helps Girls Deal with Body Image Issues

Nice.Marketers may be taught to target women “when they feel least attractive“, but the City of New York has other, more noble ideas. In fact, if we didn’t know better we might say that outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg has finally abandoned his fight with Big Soda to pursue a more important goal: helping young women resist the very messages that play on their insecurities to sell them consumer goods.

The NYC Girls Project, aimed at young women aged 7 to 12 throughout the city, will primarily take the form of print bus and subway ads along with the hashtag #ImAGirl, some fitness classes and “a pilot program addressing self-esteem issues for girls at 75 after-school programs.”

Here’s the key difference between this campaign and the Bloomberg administration’s previous social initiatives: the tone.

Rather than the usual finger-wagging “this is why you’re fat” message personified by anti-soda posters, this upbeat offering stars a diverse cast of girls proclaiming that they’re “real” and that they feel beautiful when they’re, say, playing with friends or telling a joke.

The intentions are all good; Bloomberg seems to be softening a bit as he nears the end of his tenure. Yet, as much as we laud him for his most recent public service efforts, he’s fighting an uphill battle here—and some remain skeptical.

Amanda Marcotte writes that the ads “falls short” by reinforcing the idea that being “beautiful” is still the most important goal in a young girl’s life. She thinks “these ads probably won’t reach the intended audience with the message that they want to send” because they’re more about making adults feel better about themselves than truly letting the girls in the target audience know that they’re perfect the way they are.

What do we think: a well-crafted project or a good idea that won’t go anywhere?