Kilbourne, Jean 1943–

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KILBOURNE, Jean 1943–


Born January 4, 1943, in Junction City, KS; daughter of Willard Wallace and Lillian Kilbourne; married Thomas Lux (a poet), June 18, 1983 (divorced, 1994); children: Claudia Kilbourne Lux. Ethnicity: "English/Scottish." Education: Wellesley College, B.A., 1964; Boston University, M.Ed., 1972, Ed.D., 1980. Politics: Democrat.


Office—Lordly & Dame, 51 Church St., Boston, MA 02116. E-mail[email protected]


High school teacher in Norwell, MA, 1969-72; Emerson College, Boston, MA, teacher, 1972-75; Lordly & Dame, Boston, lecturer at more than 3,000 college campuses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and other lecture venues, 1977—. Wellesley College, visiting research scholar at Wellesley Centers for Women, 1984—. Producer of films and videos, including Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women, 1979; Calling the Shots: Advertising Alcohol, 1982, 2nd edition, 1991; Still Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women, 1987; Pack of Lies: The Advertising of Tobacco, 1992; (with George Gerbner) The Killing Screens: Media and the Culture of Violence, 1994; Sexual Harassment: Building Awareness on Campus, 1995; Slim Hopes: Advertising and the Obsession with Thinness, 1995; (with Neil Postman) The End of Education, 1996; Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women, 2000; Deadly Persuasion: The Advertising of Alcohol and Tobacco, 2004; and Spin the Bottle: Sex, lies, and Alcohol, 2004 guest on numerous television programs, including Today Show, 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and PrimeTime Live. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, member of National Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 1993-96; member of advisory board, Media Education Foundation, 1993—, Women's Action for New Directions, 1995—, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2000—, and Action Coalition for Media Education, 2002—; member of board of directors, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 1985-2000, Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, 1995-2001, Teen Talking Circles Project, 1999—, and Dads and Daughters, 2003—; member of Mothers' Council, 2001—; also affiliate of Action for Children's Television, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Artist's Foundation; Cambridge School of Weston, board member. Testified before U.S. Congress on alcohol advertising, 1986, 1990.


National Association for Public Health Policy (chair of Council on Alcohol Policy, 1988).


Grant from National Education Foundation of America, 1978; named woman of the year, Boston chapter, National Organization for Women, 1982; Lecturer of the Year award, National Association for Campus Activities, 1988, 1989; Distinguished Publication Award, Association for Women in Psychology, 2000, for Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising; winner of North American Consumer Film Festival, for Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women; first place award, National Council on Family Relations Film Festival, winner of National Educational Film and Video Festival and Chicagoland Educational Film Festival, and first prize, Consumer Education, all for Still Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women; red ribbon, American Film and Video Festival, for Advertising Alcohol: Calling the Shots; Mary Mann Founder's Award, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence; Myra Sadker Equity Award; special recognition award, Academy for Eating Disorders; WIN Award, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; special commendation, Entertainment Industries Council; award of merit, Non-Smokers' Rights Association of Canada; Leadership in Action Award, Women's Action Alliance; honorary doctorate, Westfield State College.


Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, Free Press (New York, NY), 1999, published as Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to books, including Perspectives on Contemporary Issues: Readings across the Disciplines, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 2000; RereadingAmerica, 5th edition, edited by Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle, Bedford/St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2001; Race/Gender/Media: Considering Diversity across Audience, Content, and Producers, edited by Rebecca Ann Lind, Allyn & Bacon (Boston, MA), 2003; Psychology and Consumer Culture, edited by Tim Kasser and Allen D. Kanner, American Psychological Association (Washington, DC), 2004; and At Issue: Does Advertising Promote Substance Abuse?, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2005. Contributor to numerous periodicals, including International Journal of Advertising, Healthy Weight Journal, Telemedium: Journal of Media Literacy, Media and Values, Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, USA Today, and New York Times.


Jean Kilbourne is a writer and lecturer who examines the influence of advertising on people. While teaching high school, Kilbourne began collecting advertising that negatively portrayed women, eventually turning the collection into a slide show, and then further, into the popular feminist film Killing Us Softly: Advertising's Image of Women. Since then, Kilbourne has been active in researching advertising related primarily to tobacco and alcohol, as well as the image of women and the obsession with thinness, focusing her lectures on prevention and education.

Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising is an "all-out assault on the advertising industry," according to Rose M. Cichy in Library Journal. The work describes the industry as encouraging addictive product consumption, especially among women and young people. Cichy wrote that the book describes how the advertising industry creates a reality in which these addictive behaviors, especially "alcohol, tobacco, sex, and food," are presented "not only as normal but also as the solution to any problem." A Publishers Weekly critic called Deadly Persuasion "a profound work that is required reading for informed consumers…. Likely to spark intense controversy, Kilbourne's passionate treatise is a wake up call about the damaging effects of advertising in our media saturated culture." Cichy especially noted the sections of Deadly Persuasion that deal with alcohol and sexual violence, calling them "powerful and persuasive." She concluded: "Although strident at times, this is an important work. Highly recommended."

Kilbourne told CA: "My primary motivation for writing has been to express my ideas in a form other than lecture or film. Writing a book gave me the opportunity to explore my ideas much more extensively than I could in film and to connect several different themes of my work. The book is often used in college courses, so it gives students more opportunity to explore and discuss my ideas.

"I also enjoy writing. For me the most difficult part of writing a book is writing the proposal. I found it very hard to organize and structure my book. Once I had the structure, however, the writing was very pleasurable. I blocked out several hours every morning and committed myself to writing during that time."



Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Rose M. Cichy, review of Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, p. 90.

Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Deadly Persuasion, p. 63.


Jean Kilbourne Home Page, (November 5, 2006).