First of all, you need to watch this wonderful video. OK, did you do that? Great! Now we’re on the same page. Let’s talk.
I know a lot of us limit our kids’ access to media, especially women’s magazines and Go Daddy commercials, and that’s terrific but our kids hang with other people’s kids and so when you watch this video, think about how often the influence of that media bleeds through even when our children aren’t explicitly exposed to it.
39 seconds into this excellent video you’ll learn that after 3 minutes of leafing through a fashion magazine, 3 out of 4 girls feel terrible about themselves:
And then you discover that about half of them have strong feelings about how women ought to look:
Maybe it’s not enough to limit our children’s access to media. Maybe we also need to remember that most people aren’t going to so that we can remember that we also need to talk about the messages our children might get from the friends they love and cherish.
Nearly half of the little girls in first, second and third grade want to lose weight. That means nearly half of our daughters feel like their bodies need improving on before they turn nine. It’s going to take more than hiding magazines and fast-forwarding through commercials to innoculate our kids from feeling “depressed, guilty and shameful” for being regular human beings instead of photoshopped figures of perfection.
We need talk to our children about the messages they are likely going to hear from other children. How many of us can remember sitting in gym class or at a slumber party or in the dressing room and critiquing our and each other’s bodies for sport? That’s why we need to talk about body image in the same way we talk about sex and drugs and all that other hard stuff that comes with growing up. We have to say, “Lots of kids worry about being thinner/having bigger msucles/etc. and you’re going to hear that. How will you handle it when someone tells you that there’s something wrong with your body?” And we need to start talking about that early and often. Please don’t wait until your daughter starts going through puberty to have these discussions because those adorable 8-year olds on the playground are already telling each other it’s no ok to be fat.
We need to help our kids get ahead of those messages especially when self-hate is seen as a way to fit in:
Maybe that video I shared at the top should be subittled: How the Media You Don’t Consume Can Still Change Your Life
Thanks to blue milk for the link!