“I really enjoyed the presentation About-Face gave [my group], and it was probably one of the first times I ever felt positive about myself.” — Priya H. at age 16
“It was great to have the workshop to realize how much media messes with your mind. It helped me gain clarity and focus on the important things in my life.” — Priya H. at age 25, in our long-term impact survey
49% of youth have significantly higher self-esteem after attending one About-Face workshop. — About-Face evaluation of 425 students, April 2015
Find out what our programs are all about in this 5-minute video on our 10-Session Media and Action Curriculum!
About-Face Media and Action workshops and curricula equip youth of all genders with concrete, systematized tools to understand representations of gender, race, class, and sexuality in media and resist negative messages about their body image, identities, and self-esteem. We then teach youth skills to take action and engage in social change.
About-Face has been leading interactive media-literacy and body image workshops in Bay Area schools and communities since 2007, with an emphasis on the specific needs of young women. Our experience in enabling young people to understand the power of media and its effects has helped us create unique, effective programs for youth.
All of our Media and Action programs are guided by the following ideas and methods:
Youth are sophisticated users of media, but not necessarily productive critics of that media. We meet teens where they are, utilizing popular mainstream media examples that they are frequently exposed to and influenced by. We take a critical look at this media, consider the goals of the media and how it is structured, and instill critical-thinking skills — in a fun way — so teens truly understand the messages they’re consuming.
Teens don’t need to be “fixed” to feel good about themselves. They already know what to do, but they need role models and tools, particularly in a culture where negative media stereotypes are pervasive.
Health comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Our work encourages healthy eating and exercise behaviors in addition to self-acceptance.
Teens won’t learn if they’re not having fun. We use our trademark sass, humor, and wit to bring the message home.
Taking positive, productive action is important to reinforce learning and build self-confidence. Experiences of collective efficacy can lead individual group members to experience higher levels of self-efficacy and leadership skills (Sherrod, 2007).
Additionally grounded in Positive Youth Development principles, About-Face programs focus on skill-building by engaging students in open-inquiry discussions of the media that is most relevant to them. This builds the critical-thinking skills they will need to be successful decision-makers in their futures. Positive action-taking is a key part of our programs. We consistently encourage the young people in our programs to do something about the cultural issues surrounding media. Our 10-Session Media and Action program enables teens to create and execute their own action event.
Workshops and curricula are available for youth of all genders, ages 13 and up (7th grade and up) in either girls’ groups or mixed-gender settings in classrooms, at conferences, and for nonprofit and community groups. We will send one of our 15 trained About-Face Workshop Leaders to work with your group. Our workshops are usually between 50 and 90 minutes, and we limit the number of participants to 35 per workshop.
Programs we offer
About-Face workshops and curricula take the following forms. Click the list below to see more information about each program.
About-Face 1-Session Media and Action Workshops take a spirited, sassy, and informative approach to teaching students in the classroom and other groups how to “read”, understand, and process the media messages they see every day.
We will send one of 15 trained workshop About-Face Workshop Leaders to your location in the Bay Area to work with your group. Our workshops are usually between 50 and 90 minutes, and we limit the number of participants to 35 per workshop.
About-Face workshops are:
Guided, not directive: We don’t tell kids and adults what to think, but instead let them develop their own thoughts. Our questioning process is in line with the Socratic Method of inquiry.
Interactive: We provide discussion time and opportunities to process what each person is experiencing, and to hear everyone’s voice. Small-group activities enhance learning.
Appealing to teen audiences: We center workshops on dynamic media, such as social media apps, TV and movie clips, online videos, web sites, and images from magazines.
Action-oriented and positive: We leave participants inspired to make change, not feeling hopeless.
Sassy and edgy: We use humor, making the workshops feel like fun, not like a boring lecture.
The About-Face 4-Session Media and Action Curriculum is ideal for youth of all genders in schools, non-profit organizations, or after-school programs that value media literacy. It’s great if your group needs a concise program that complements a wellness, social justice, and/or life skills curriculum.
Our 4-Session curriculum deepens understanding of the skills we teach in the 1-Session Workshop, followed by a group-specific focus on topics such as gender, ethnicity/race, class, food and diet perceptions, or violence. Teens then learn about how to take action and make a commitment to personal, community, or systemic action-taking.
More details on the 4-Session Curriculum:
Meetings are 60 minutes, typically on a set day and time.
Group size ranges from 5-15 students.
While students are invited to sign-up and join the group voluntarily, this program can be provided to a group where mandatory attendance is expected (in a health/wellness class; Girl Scouts troop; Junior League or National Charity League group; teen leadership group; or juvenile justice program).
Hear what Josh Zimmerman, a teacher at Ida B. Wells High School, has to say about the About-Face workshops.
The About-Face 10- Session Media and Action Curriculum expands on the 4-Session Curriculum. It is designed for an after-school setting in either middle school or high school that has existing after-school programming.
This program not only helps girls learn the critical-thinking skills they need to be successful decision-makers in their futures, but also increases their self-confidence as they gain insight into how and why media is developed.
Two About-Face Workshop Leaders will come to your location in the Bay Area to facilitate a curriculum that includes team-building, basic media literacy, advertising and consumerism, “subvertising” (a method for deconstructing advertising messages), activism, gender/ethnic/class stereotyping, navigating media messages around food, goal-setting, and completing an action project on an issue of their choice.
Measured outcomes for this group include significant improvements in self-esteem, critical-thinking skills, media-literacy skills, body image, and skill development in goal-setting and project completion. These outcomes are protective factors against eating disorders, early pregnancy, substance abuse, depression, and other high-risk behaviors.
More details on the 10-Session Curriculum:
Meetings are 90 minutes, once per week, at a consistent day and time.
Group size ranges from 5 to 15 girls.
Girls are invited to sign up and join the group voluntarily and with their parents’ permission.
Participation in this group may fulfill community service or service-learning hours depending on the school.
If you spend any time with teens — as a teacher, parent, group leader, friend, or relative — you know that social media, the internet, TV shows, and music videos rule their worlds. How can you learn media literacy skills you can pass on to teens in a way they can truly hear?
The About-Face Parent and Adult Advocate Media and Action Sessions, lead by Executive Director Jennifer Berger, presents tools for guiding teens in truly understanding media messages — tools that instill productive critical thinking, not just criticism. Adults learn the basics of media literacy in an interactive, hands-on workshop.
Additionally, we provide the dos and don’ts of engaging with youth about some of the most difficult media-related issues they face, such as body image, adult content, and gender roles. This workshop is ideal for Parent-Teacher Associations, adult mentors of youth, teachers, and anyone who considers themselves allies of youth.
More details on adult advocate sessions:
Sessions are 60-90 minutes.
All sessions are lead by Jennifer Berger, Executive Director of About-Face.
Recommended group size: up to 35 participants.
Location is determined by the person requesting the session, or can be hosted at the About-Face office in San Francisco.
About-Face’s brand of media literacy really works! In a recent study of 425 of our 1-Session Media and Action Workshop participants:
49% of youth had significantly higher self-esteem after attending one About-Face workshop.
45% felt less pressure from media to be attractive or look like celebrities.
75% did not purchase beauty or grooming products or diet tochange their appearance.
Program participants from our 4- and 10-Session curricula also shared the following:
“Now I look at media and advertisements in a whole new way. I don’t compare myself to people in magazines or music videos. I feel more confident and secure with who I am.” —Sophia
“It felt great to find fault in the ads rather than using the ads to find fault in ourselves.” —Selina
“I used to have a very negative body image and self-esteem, and it was through [my program with] About-Face I realized all I could accomplish once I made peace with my body.Who knew I actually had time to read about politics and try out long-distance running when I wasn’t busy tearing myself apart in front of a mirror?” — Haley
Long-term impact. In fall 2015, we surveyed women and girls we served at least one year ago, and of the 26 respondents:
77% took on a leadership role since their experience with About-Face.
92% engaged in activism to make positive change on issues important to them.
92% understand media better.
92% experienced a long-term improvement in their self-esteem.
81% reported benefits to their education, career, or social change activities.
Our evaluation and data analysis is lead by external evaluator Christina Peter, PhD in Educational Psychology and Statistics from University of Illinois-Chicago. Our process was first developed by Kjerstin Gruys, PhD in Sociology, UCLA.
Next: Want to learn more? Let us know you’re interested!
NOTE: The majority of About-Face workshops and curricula are delivered in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re sorry, but we cannot accommodate requests for workshops outside of our area at this time. In the future, we hope to train workshop leaders via webinar.