Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Arthur Millman


Mainstream media plays an important part of our lives. For teens today, often labeled the “digital generation,” media sources affect the way they read, understand, and interpret information and are a critical influence on the way they see themselves. I have been a media critic since I was a teenager, but the Critical and Creative Thinking program allowed me to articulate my vision for a fairer representation of women and girls while tapping in my creative toolbox to produce original and bolder images of real girls through the G.I.R.L.S. (Growing Individuals Reacting to Life's Struggles) Project and GIRL TV—in short, to combine criticism with change. In this synthesis paper I describe the G.I.R.L.S. Project and GIRL TV, which engage teens in dialogue about how girls are negatively portrayed, provide a role for girls in media production, and show how that role allows them to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to cultivate a healthy self-image, despite formidable challenges. I provide a review of relevant literature about the importance of media critique, including the groundbreaking work of Carol Gilligan and Diane Levin on adolescent development, socialization and media consumption. I convey the process and outcomes of conducting interviews with teens in the text and in a short video——that also illustrates a new skill set that I have developed. The synthesis paper concludes with a reflective note on my growth as a collaborative leader and emerging media producer.