Through her pioneering work studying images of women in advertising, Jean Kilbourne has transformed the way in which organizations and educational institutions around the world address the prevention of many public health problems including smoking, high-risk drinking, eating disorders, obesity, sexualization of children, and violence against women. In the late 1960s, she began her exploration of the connection between advertising and its impact on several public health issues, most notably violence against women and eating disorders. Ms. Kilbourne launched a movement to promote media literacy as a way to prevent these problems – a radical and original idea at the time that is today mainstream and an integral part of most prevention programs.
Internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work, Ms. Kilbourne’s speaking, writing, films and videos have impacted the way in which we publicly communicate with each other about ideal beauty, the connection between the objectification of women and violence, the themes of liberation and weight control, the targeting of alcoholics by the alcohol industry, and the image of addiction as a love affair. Her first film Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women (and the remakes Still Killing Us Softly and Killing Us Softly 3) are among the most popular and widely used educational films of all time.
In addition to the many awards and honors she has received, Ms. Kilbourne has served as an authority on addictions, gender issues and the media, and as an advisor to former United States Surgeons General, Dr. C. Everett Koop and Dr. Antonia Novello. She has also provided testimony for the United States Congress. She lectures at a wide range of conferences including those focusing on addictions and public health, violence, women and the media and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs to encourage an open dialogue that moves and empowers people to take action in their own and in society’s interest.