I’ve been following the “Am I Pretty?” phenomena that hit the news last week. It’s mighty disturbing on many levels:
- It’s disturbing to see that young girls need to ask an unknown group of people for reassurance.
- It’s sad to realize that teens are forgetting that the celebrities they so want to look like were once teenagers themselves – and they looked like normal teenagers
- It’s unnerving to know that kids as young as 11 are gaining access to YouTube and posting such videos, unbeknownst to their parents
- And it’s unsettling that so many angry, nasty venomous comments are posted in response
When we are bombarded with more than 5,000 images per day, younger girls may not be able to filter out some of the images.
What does that look like to a tween or teen? A few years ago, Dove did their take on it:
So what’s a parent to do?
According to Renee Hobbs, EdD, associate professor of communications at Temple University, “the average teen girl gets about 180 minutes of media exposure daily and only about 10 minutes of parental interaction a day.”
To can help combat the imagery that our children are being bombarded with each day:
- As mothers, we’re the first line of defense, but we’re all guilty of not watching what we say around our daughters. How many times have we all made a remark about not being happy with our bodies or needing to go on a diet? We need to remember to keep our comments about our OWN body images in check around our daughters and reflect a positive body image. Our daughters are listening, even though we don’t think so.
- Dads play an important role, too. Remarks can play a role in her interpretation of what she should look like too. Keep body image remarks on a positive level.
- Emphasize healthy eating and exercise.
- When you’re watching a TV show together, talk about how the celebrities and actresses look. Emphasize fit models.
- Develop a closer on-line relationship with your daughter. Discuss what sites she visits and her social media habits. Discuss the “Am I Pretty?” story and get her take on it.
- Reassure her about her body and help build her self-esteem.
- Most of all, just love her for who she is.