Shari Graydon (1958-)
Canadian author Shari Graydon has had a passion for the arts ever since she was a little girl. While growing up she tried to get involved in a variety of creative activities: writing, painting, drawing, and even dance. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in theatre, Graydon saved money and went backpacking in Europe for six months before finally settling down and beginning her career as a freelance writer. The author of books such as Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should now, Graydon has also worked as a consultant and taught critical media studies and communication skills at the post-secondary level. Made You Look has been called a kind of "NO LOGO for kids." Her second book, In Your Face: The Culture of Beauty and You, is designed to disabuse teenagers of the notion that they have to look like Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake in order to get a date, get a job, or get a life.
Referred to as a "lively analysis" by Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson, Made You Look presents readers with an explanation of how and why marketing is conducted. "Brimming with anecdotes, facts, and quotes, the text covers controversial programs that bring ads into the schools, and describes traditional marketing methods as well as "stealth" techniques" continued Mattson. Graydon discusses increasingly popular advertising techniques, such as product placement in movies, and "cool hunters," individuals assigned to certain schools whose job it is to follow around trendy youngsters in hopes of gaining vital advertising information and possibly pushing products. Gail Lennon, writing in Resource Links, called Made You Look "an excellent resource for consumer awareness programs and media literacy courses. It is also a good support for parents trying to educate their children about the seductive nature of advertising." School Library Journal critic Jeffrey Hastings also enjoyed the book, calling it a "skillfully age-tailored overview of the advertising industry".
In Booklist, Hazel Rochman wrote that In Your Face examines the way society determines what constitutes "beauty," then "exposes the 'sneaky strategies' behind media hype." Writing in Quill and Quire, Bridget Donald found the book's writing "clear and engaging" and the material "exceptionally well-researched and presented."
Graydon told Something about the Author: "As a child I wasn't permitted to watch TV on weeknights. Nor did my parents ever buy me brand-name clothing. Despite these debilitating setbacks, I made the cheerleading squad, was elected to student council, and had friends. Becoming a media critic as an adult has given me ample opportunity to realize that my parents did me a favor by limiting my media exposure.
"While studying theatre at university, I decided that my fragile ego wouldn't survive the constant auditioning process necessitated by an actor's life. I got a real job working for a multinational public relations agency instead. There I gained an understanding of the business world by flogging stories about fast food chains and drug companies to the news media. All I can say now is that I'm sorry, and I've been trying to make up for it ever since.
"I co-founded the British Columbia Association for Media Education and served for eight years as the president of MediaWatch. I produced an under-funded TV series for WTN about women and the media, and wrote a column for the Vancouver Sun, where my frequent disagreement with the paper's editorial positions ensured me that tenure would be limited. In 2000 I took a suicide job as press secretary for a British Columbia premier when his party was at 17 percent in the polls with only a year left in its mandate. The experience has inspired an idea for my first play, Revenge of the Pressed Secretary.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 1, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know, p. 668; December, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of In Your Face: The Culture of Beauty and You.
Quill and Quire, October, 2004, Bridget Donald, review of In Your Face, p. 36.
Resource Links, December, 2003, Gail Lennon, review of Made You Look, p. 27.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Jeffrey Hastings, review of Made You Look, p. 168.
Annick Press Web site, http://www.annicpress.com/ (January 16, 2005), "Shari Graydon."