Countering Inappropriate Images to Raise Girls from the Inside Out Fighting back on the negative messages pitched to our girls. BY DR. MICHELE BORBA
Be careful and diligent regarding the information your daughter is consuming.
“ Kids who see and hear their parents (especially moms) worrying about their appearance usually adopt the belief that “being young and thin” is the standard to achieve.”
There seems to be an ever growing number of inappropriate products and marketing campaigns aimed at our girls. These products and campaigns push a "too sexy, too soon" message that we need to stop—and we can.
These products are sold because they are purchased. A collective parental “NO!” would send a clear message to advertisers. Write your concerns to distributors and product developers. Those complaints do work… several of these companies have reconfigured their advertisements and even removed them from their websites. “Outrage” petitions are also gaining signatures by the minute. Speak out and keep your wallets shut. Also, share your concerns to your daughter to help develop her media literacy.
Check Your Attitude
Kids who see and hear their parents (especially moms) worrying about their appearance usually adopt the belief that "being young and thin" is the standard to achieve. So watch your comments (please!!) and tune into your own behavior. Your daughter is watching and listening more than you may realize! And you are also far more influential on her development than you may be giving yourself credit for.
Build Self-Esteem from the Inside Out
A positive, authentic, well-rounded sense of self-esteem and healthy body image are essential for our girls. Find ways to help your daughter gain competence in physical, social and academic endeavors. Help her realize her innate strengths and wonderful personal qualities. Focus your praise on her deserved inside qualities: a kind-heart, optimistic spirit, stick-to-it attitude so she realizes "who I am is more important than how toned my legs are or what I look like."
Watch Her Media Diet, Please!
Control your remote, get her a subscription to healthy magazines, and find her healthy outlooks that don’t require wearing sexy attire. While you’re at it, put down those celebrity magazines… at least when your daughter is in the room!
Check Her Friends
Tune in a bit closer to what your daughter’s friends are talking about. If the focus is all about the latest "diets" and "dress size" it may be time to steer your child toward others friends with healthier outlooks.
Find Like-Minded Parents
Consider talking with parents of your teen’s friends and hear their views. Chances are they share your standards. Standing together will reduce those, "You’re the only parent who feels that way." I’m betting you’re not. Find parents who share your values and join forces so you can stop this craze together.
Find Positive Role Models
Tune into those so-called role models. Make sure their examples are ones you want your daughter to copy. Let’s offer our daughters female role models who feel comfortable in their own skin and don’t need to rely on Botox, breast implants, dieting, and designer labels to feel attractive. Expose your daughter to authentic, confident women, and then tell her why you admire them. Our girls need strong, resourceful female examples to emulate.
Our best hope is to help our daughters learn—and as early as possible—that real happiness isn’t borrowed or copied, but lies within. That’s exactly why we need to help our girls become strong from the inside out. Doing so is what will help our daughters feel comfortable in their own skin.
Dr. Michele Borba is an educational consultant and author who has conducted parent and teacher seminars worldwide. For more information on her books and work visit www.micheleborba.com.