Being a mother of two girls my heart ached the other day when I witnessed a young adolescent girl walking down the street with short shorts, a halter top, and high heel shoes. I wanted to yell out the window, “Honey, you are worth so much more than that”. So this instantly got me thinking, who was this girl’s role model? Who influenced her decisions? Shoot, who influenced her wardrobe? My conclusion was four-fold; perhaps her mother or female guardian, her peers, fashion industry, and/or the social media had something to do with her wardrobe selection that morning?
Female role models:
A female role model could be a mother, sister, cousin, aunt, close family friend etc. It got me thinking about my own daughters and who their female role model might be once they reach adolescents. Then it occurred to me that what they witness today can even have an impact on how they mold their future self-image and behavior. So I took a good hard look at some of the female role models that girls have to look up to today, number one being their own mothers. (Don’t get me wrong fathers play a vital role too! First and foremost they need to be present and they need to live a lifestyle that doesn’t encourage daughters to have low self-esteem. It doesn’t help when dads are looking at magazines, watching, or frequenting establishments that encourage a sex sells innuendo. But more on that later.) Surprisingly this concerned me, it had me thinking about current posts on facebook, conversations with other moms, and cyber media. What did these all have in common, a strong self-deprivation agenda! Many moms are complaining about their weight, their thighs, cellulite, etc. and how unhappy they are, if only they could fit into their skinny jeans then life would be great! What messages are we sending to our daughters, to our sons? Are we saying that your worth is in some way directly measured by your pant, bathing suite, or dress size? Perhaps if we, as moms, focused just as much energy on the positive attributes as we do complaining about the flaws we could be that positive self-worth image that our young adolescents so desperately need to prescribe to?
This one scares the crap out of me!! Because while you can encourage and influence friendships when your children are young as they grow older you slowly lose this ability. They enter middle school, high school, get their first job, and suddenly they are introduced to a broad spectrum of individuals whom you will have no say in whether or not a friendship should be fostered. What if your daughter makes friends with the daughter of the mother who has been religiously bantering about her physical attributes for years and now her daughter thinks she is only valued by her appearance? But how does that young girl know if her appearance is valued? Well by the amount of attention she receives from the boys of course. All that attention more than likely will lead to synthetic power; she has something all the boys want. Then, one day a young boy will say all the right things, all the things she had been yearning to hear for years, synthetic of course, and they give into the most animalistic behaviors. She will then lose her power and synthetic love so she will start the vicious cycle all over again, pushing the envelope further each time. And your daughter bared witness to the entire fiasco. But, what will she think? Will she think she needs to dress reprehensible in order to get all the boys attention?
My daughter is age 6 and currently wears a size 8. I am 5’-9” and my hubby is 6’-6”, she is going to be a tall young lady. Unfortunately since she wears a size 8 it seems like the fashion industry feels as though she should be dressing as a pre-teen. I have had such a difficult time finding appropriate clothing for her. Shorts and skirts that cover her bum when she bends over and shirts that cover her mid-drift are difficult to come by. What gives? Why are children being exposed to an adult fashion industry when it comes to the styles that are available? Thankfully there is a strong dress code in the school district we reside in and all the children dress for success. But outside of school is another story.
It is obvious that stores are just trying to sell sex and at a young age. Just take Abercrombie & Fitch, what are they selling in the following ad….
Shoot, this advertisement doesn’t even have the model wearing ANY clothes!! So, what are they selling??
It seems like our youth are slowly becoming numb to the idea that something is too racy or scandalous to wear. The skinnier, shorter, and sexier the better seem to be the motto society is feeding our young ladies. I know this is getting lengthy and I could go on for day so I will keep this short. Here are two quick examples of what pre-teens and teens are viewing these days.
J.Lo, you know the mother of young twins, singer and one of the judges for America Idol, the show pre- teens and teens watch in hopes of one day making it big themselves. She has a new song and video out…..
And then there is this show that I found to be uncomfortable for me, a 30 something woman to watch. I could not image my teenage daughter watching it.
We live in a society that doesn’t value or respect the female form; it is more like a meal ticket. Sex sells and until consumers stop buying, it will keep on selling and further assisting in the degradation of adolescent girls self-image.
So, as Gandi said, “be the change you want to see in the world”. Before you utter a self-degrading comment about yourself think about how it might affect those around you. When purchasing clothing for your children look for age appropriate pieces that will help build their confidence from the inside. Lastly, and this one is tricky because children have so many means of viewing media, try to monitor what your child views or at least be present in the media so you know what type of conversations to initiate. Growing up televisions were not allowed in bedrooms and the computer was in a community space for all to view, I like those rules.
What are the rules in your home? How do you deal with outside influences? Have you experienced any clothing dilemmas? As I stated I have two young daughters, I am really interested in hearing other moms advice.