LLU School of Public Health Alumna Raises Awareness for Women Objectification and Empowerment During the American Public Health Association Film Festival

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Loma Linda University alum aims to end the negative trends in the media impacting children and young adults while emphasizing the importance of education, especially for girls.

I don’t want kids to get trapped in the exploitive trends that we see in the media every day.

Digital media in the 21st century has had and continues to have an intense impact on how girls and young women view themselves physically and behaviorally and can ultimately affect the opportunities they will have and the choices they will make in life. Loma Linda University School of Public Health (SPH) alumna, Pamela Luna, DrPH, MEd, is working to combat the trends negatively influencing youth today in an effort to empower girls and boys through education and awareness.

A governing council with the American Public Health Association (APHA), Dr. Luna facilitated two film festival sessions during the organization’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston, MA, including the session, "Objecting to Objectification: How Girls are Portrayed in the Media," which took place on Nov. 4 and welcomed roughly 350 attendees.

"Anybody who cares about the health and education of kids needs to be aware of the influences of the media," Dr. Luna said. "Events like this film festival allow us to empower people to take what they see and take action and make a difference. I only hope that is what we have done."

During the session, all or portions of four films were screened and discussed by a panel consisting of individuals associated with each of the films. The films were, "Sexy Baby," "Stop Objectification," "Miss Representation," and "Girl Rising."

Gary Black, founder of the APHA film festival, was ecstatic about the success of the event, which was also celebrated its 10th anniversary. "Dr. Luna’s sessions were indeed a highlight of the festival’s 10-year history."

"I have been saying each and every year that storytelling is one of the most effective methods we have of communicating health," Black said. "These visual communication projects and the accompanying campaigns they support are wonderful new tools we have to promote health and social justice. It was truly a pleasure and an honor to work with Dr. Luna to share them with APHA members."

Since her return from the event in Boston, Dr. Luna has kept the momentum from the APHA film festival going—she hosted a screening of "Girl Rising" to students at Loma Linda University on Thursday, Nov. 14, in collaboration with the chaplain’s office at LLU.

"The screening of ‘Girl Rising’ is an outgrowth of the commitment we have to educate and encourage advocacy within our community for those who may not have a voice or whose stories are untold," Said Dilys A. Brooks, MDiv, associate campus chaplain at LLU. "It is of vital importance—in the the academic and professional preparation of our students—that we provide extracurricular opportunities where they may experience the stories of the people they will serve."

"Girl Rising" documents the lives of nine girls living in various parts of the developing world and how a lack of education has affected them. The film sheds light on the fact that 33 million fewer girls than boys attend school worldwide—something most people are not aware of.

Brooks continued, "This film in particular provided us with insight on the educational prospects and life expectancy of girls around the world. It certainly enlightened us regarding the correlation of the education of girls to the economic stability of a given nation and the impact of education on economic stability, peace within a nation or region as well as cultural tolerance and understanding."

After seeing the film, Katie Freeland, MPH, a global health student at LLUSPH, blogged, "Girl Rising is a testimony of the resilience, radiance, and brilliance that comes from the minds of girls all over the world–girls who have faced unimaginable darkness with unrivaled, spectacular courage; courage of which many of us wish we could even have a fraction; courage to fight for the rights of themselves, their friends, their mothers, their sisters, and the generations of girls to come."

Dr. Luna earned her doctorate in public health from LLU School of Public Health in 1988. "Studying public health at Loma Linda University," she admits, "taught me to look at the multiple factors that impact the health of individuals and populations—and to act locally while keeping the Global impact in mind. We are all connected."

She currently runs a consulting business that allows her to be an advocate for the health and well-being of individuals and communities, including children and young adults. "I’m passionate about what I do," she says, "and I don’t want kids to get trapped in the exploitive trends that we see in the media every day."

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Briana Pastorino
Loma Linda University Medical Center
since: 08/2010
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