Girls Self Image Development: Unhealthy Images Lead to Unhealthy Thinking
A recent report from the American Psychological Association (APA) found evidence that the excess of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and
media is harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development.
I think adults are affected by media, songs, internet-and that is hard enough. After looking in all of the magazines and at models, my friends and I agree that our least favorite day of the year is trying on swimsuits! It affects your whole mood and self image for the day.
Think about how hard it is for young girls if they believe “how hot you look” is how valuable you are?
Here are some ways parents can be proactive in encouraging a healthy self-image in their children.
1. Teach what real value is. – I think kids sometimes are confused about VALUE. How valuable you are is not measured by how pretty you are on the outside and SUCCESS is not measured by how famous you are. We were watching the Oscars and my 6 year old son said “She is so pretty,” and then quickly looked at me and said “You are prettier, Mom”. And I said, “It’s okay, there are many people prettier than me on the outside, I know that’s not why you love me. It is important to teach children this from an early age.
2. Call out kids with “the grass is always greener syndrome”. – Try not dehumanize and judge celebrities. Talk about what problems they might have that are different from the problems your child has and maybe some of the same struggles (like maybe wanting acceptance from peers). Confirm that you don’t really know them personally or what is going on in their lives- no matter how much you read about them. We know so much about other people’s personal life and hardships, it is really easy for kids to feel like they actually know these people. It is very easy for all of us to see the glamour, whether it be in a famous singer or the most popular girl in the school.
3. Use your eyes- Watch what your children watch on TV, look at what they are wearing, look what their friends are wearing, and look at the same magazines that they browse though on their own. Know who their role models are and why. “Why do you like ______?” It is because the person is a great actor or funny? Hopefully you can come up with character traits and not physical traits.
4. Use your ears.- Listen to what they are hearing on the radio, TV, CDs, and their IPods. Many songs that can be downloaded are not edited versions. You would be surprised at how many songs have different lyrics than what you are hearing on the radio. Listen to their thoughts on their favorite TV show characters, movie stars, athletes, and their own friends at school.
5. Use your mouth.- Don’t be afraid to have conversations with your child about how they’re feeling about their self image and how ads, songs, ect. are impacting them, Boys too! You are the parent! Kids of all ages want and need boundaries whether they admit it or not.
Take a stand and have confidence enough not to be followers and not to purchase clothing , music, or magazines that you don’t believe sends the right message to your children!