Ever worry about your daughters seeing too much Miley Cyrus and Victoria Secret ads? Do you want your girls to grow up strong and resistant to the unhealthy messages and images portrayed in the media? Here are my top 2 suggestions for empowering girls in this regard.
1) Focus on non-physical qualities: When addressing your daughter or any girl for that matter, consciously remark about things other than how pretty they are or their outfits. Instead, affirm more important qualities like: character, values, talents, compassion, focus, determination, sense of humor, ability to not let things get to them, honesty, sense of fairness and justice, integrity, and kindness. The more we focus on these qualities, the better chance that girls will as well. They are so much more than their bodies and looks. What parents acknowledge can balance out what the culture is telling girls about what is important.
2) Guide girls to become media and image savvy: Good research has shown that when parents watch TV shows and movies with their daughters, and use these times as opportunities to talk about what they are seeing, it really does help girls put things in perspective. Teach girls to ask themselves questions every time they see an ad or commercial or image in magazines, movies, videos, mall window displays etc. Questions like: Is the model happy? Why would she go through hours of makeup to look like someone she’s not? Does she really look like that? What are they trying to sell me?
And let girls in on the secret: companies are not trying to sell them products; what they are really selling them is the idea that without these products, you can’t be happy or popular. If you want to be cool and hot and sexy and have tons of friends who are cool like the ones in the commercial, you’ve got to drink their soda and use their makeup etc. They are selling the lie that more is better, and they are trying to create a craving in you that makes you want to buy more. If we can get girls to understand this, they won’t be so vulnerable to advertising and the media.