Jean Kilbourne

b. 4 Jan 1943, Junction City, KS

Media literacy educator; author; filmmaker

Jean Kilbourne pioneered the critical study of images of women in advertising and the use of media literacy for public health and prevention. Her work examines how a media landscape saturated with visions of idealized female beauty produces illusions of personal inadequacy, sexual objectification of women and girls, and violence against women. In 1969 she began lecturing on these topics, and has never stopped, traveling widely and inspiring many educators to follow her example of unflinching critique. She has also lectured on alcohol and tobacco advertising since the late 1970s. She is the creator of several award-winning films, including the Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series (1979, 1987, 2000). Her books include Can't BuyMy Love: How Advertising Changes the WayWe Think and Feel (2000) and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids (2008).


The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey