As a teacher, a youth librarian, and the editor of a magazine founded to promote the work of female and genderqueer writers, the empowerment of young women is a matter of vital importance to me. In the spring of 2014, I developed a program called REAL GIRLS, REAL BODIES for a Young Adult Materials class at the University of Texas’ School of Information.

What are real bodies? Are they different from what we see on billboards, on the runway, and on the cover of Cosmopolitan? For many teen girls, the answer to this second question is an overwhelming yes—but this doesn’t stop them from chasing the fantasy image. REAL GIRLS, REAL BODIES is a summer program for public libraries that creates a space where tweens and teens identifying as girls can critically engage with the media messages they receive about body image, incorporating critical discussion as well as anarchic maker elements, allowing the girls move from consumer to powerful producer.

Though the program is created for a public library, it may easily be adapted to a semester-long program for a middle or high school library. Interested in enacting it in your library? Get in touch.