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I have recently been writing many letters to Congresspeople. Many of them were from sample letters already written for me and I read and then filled in my name and such. So now I want to write a letter to some companies about body image in the media, but I'm not exactly sure what to say. I can quote the statistics I know and stuff, but I want it to sound professional or at least important so they will take me seriously. Could you give me some idea of what to say to them and how to address these letters? Thanks.

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM. Thanks, too, for taking action in your life. Letter writing--especially those that are mailed rather than emailed--are such an effective form of activism--especially when they arrive in large numbers. I think that there are a few basic ingredients to every letter:

1.) Don't make them defensive right away. For instance, don't say "I will never buy your product or vote for you...." A more effective approach is to give them the benefit of the doubt. And ideally what you are trying to do is to raise their consciousness. Sometimes people know exactly what messages they are sending, but other times people are just ignorant and you have to educate them. If they fall into the latter category, they might be willing to change their tune, once they have other options. Therefore, you should begin your letter: "I'm writing out of concern about your recent ad......because I know that you are a company whose customer base is overwhelmingly female, I want to make sure the you know the dangers of your ad and how, instead, you can be more representative of your clients...."

2.) A letter should have three basic parts: one--what's wrong; two--how you propose they fix it; and three--why it's in their best interest to correct this.

3.) Depending on who's writing and what your writing to, you also might want to include why this is of particular interest too: i.e. "As a long-time customer of yours....," "As the father of three children......" "As the president of a major company......" Whatever it is--big or small. You have to make them feel invested in you.

4.) If you feel like there is no room for dialogue, then you might threaten to expose whatever they are doing through the media. Publicity--bad publicity--will certainly scare them.

I hope that helps. Happy letter writing.


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