Why girls think smoking cigarettes will keep them skinny

Internationally recognized speaker and author Jean Kilbourne, EdD explains the reasoning behind why teenage girls smoke to stay skinny.
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Why girls think smoking cigarettes will keep them skinny

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For the first time ever in our country, more girls are smoking than boys. The primary reason that girls smoke is their belief that somehow this will help them to be thin. The tobacco industry has always capitalized on this belief from the very beginning--the way that they name their product "Virginia Slims" or the way they use language like "slim," "light"--is all designed to give girls the idea that if they smoke, they won't eat; they'll be able to control their weight. Another way that the tobacco industry targets girls is by equating cigarette smoking with liberation. This goes way back too. Back in 1929, Edward Bernays, "the father of public relations," hired women to dress like the suffragists, march in the Easter Parade in New York City, light cigarettes, and call them "torches of freedom." That was the beginning of deliberately trying to confuse liberation for women with smoking. Virginia Slims whole campaign, in the very beginning, was "You've Come a Long Way, Baby," as if becoming addicted to cigarettes was in some way liberating. The terrible truth is that women who smoke like men die like men.
TEEN, Substance Use, Tobacco Use

Internationally recognized speaker and author Jean Kilbourne, EdD explains the reasoning behind why teenage girls smoke to stay skinny.

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Jean Kilbourne, EdD

Author & Social Theorist

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses.

She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has served as an advisor to the Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

According to Susan Faludi, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture —advertising. We owe her a great debt.” A member of the Italian Parliament said, “Hearing Jean Kilbourne is a profound experience. Audiences leave her feeling that they have heard much more than another lecture, for she teaches them to see themselves and their world differently.”

She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. A more unusual tribute was paid when an all-female rock group in Canada named itself Kilbourne in her honor.

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