Can you compete with the media’s message to your daughter?

Many teen girls today are more concerned with their looks than with their grades. As a result, parents are mystified as to where their daughter’s obsession with looking trendy and sexy is coming from.

It’s really no mystery, however. The average teenager is exposed to over 10 hours of media a day via the internet, music, TV, magazines, and movies. In all these forms of media, many women are celebrated as flawless objects of beauty and desire. In this regard, it’s a simple equation, really: our teens admire what we give them to admire.

To check this cause and effect scenario for myself, I did a simple exercise with one of my clients the other day. I asked her to name women she wants to be like in terms of looks. She listed many popular models and movie stars. Then I asked her to name some women whom she admires for what they have accomplished in the world through their intellect and their voice. There was a long pause of silence and then she looked at me and said, “I can’t really think of any.”

If you want your daughter to experience being valued for her mind, her heart, and her talents then you must take an active role in exposing her to women whom she can admire for those things. Unfortunately, the media has got a huge head start on you. But you have the advantage of a relationship with your daughter, which should ultimately be more influential.

In the next month I will post a few tips each week to help you gain an advantage over media. Here are a few steps you can take this week to expose her to the idea that she has value beyond her physical appearance:

1. Take a self-inventory.  How do you talk about other women with your daughter? Do you celebrate women for their accomplishments and intelligence or do you mostly talk about the women you envy for their beauty or do you discuss how bad other women’s outfits are? Do you celebrate your own accomplishments or do you mostly talk about how you want to look thinner or younger? What you value and how you talk about it has a very strong influence on your daughter so be sure to point out women you admire and share your own aspirations and passions.

2.  Discuss the impact advertising has on our values with your teen. Show her this collection of three short videos on the issue of unrealistic beauty standards in the media to get the conversation going.   Pass this on! If you think your friends would enjoy this discussion on competing with the media for your daughter’s self-worth. Send it on!

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