Do you wonder why your once confident little girl is now full of anxiety about appearance and friends? Did the changes of puberty send her off a cliff, into the valley of low self-esteem?
Here’s why. The moment a girl starts to experience the physical changes of puberty, she unconsciously starts to form belief systems to make sense of those changes. During the critical window of ages 8 to 14, her mind is like play dough–extremely “moldable.”
Almost daily, her brain is bombarded with glamorized, visual images flashed on billboards, computer monitors, televisions, movies screens, magazines, and smartphones. It’s as if her brain is “taking snapshots” and building “a photo album of selfies” that say, “Here, this is what you are supposed to be like, even if it is impossible and unhealthy.” It sounds like a powerful form of “brainwashing,” doesn’t it? Our image-driven culture makes puberty more like a “minefield,” than the wondrous experience it is supposed to be!
Here are four ways you can protect the girls you love NOW:
- Be media wise. By now you’ve heard about the harmful effects of photo-doctored pictures and how they cause girls to seek unrealistic images of perfection. But you need to know the rest! The astounding intent of advertisers is to fuel impulsive behaviors and create emotional distress. At the heart of advertising is not concern for the welfare of teens, but the desire to exploit and create greater levels of need. The PBS documentary, The Merchants of Cool, documents the “predatory nature” of advertisers who knowingly encourage harmful behaviors to sell products. Media giants don’t look for trendsetters who are positive role models, but look instead for charismatic deviants who erode moral and social norms. A distressed teen without moral and social restraints will buy, buy, buy to satisfy her unmet needs. It’s all about money and girls pay the price.
- Guard your daughter’s mind. When you see a magazine cover that parades women’s scantily-clad bodies, SPEAK UP: “Honey, that’s not how women should be valued.” When she is selecting movies, say “No” if casual sex is glamorized. Be firm. “This movie is harmful. Healthy relationships are built upon friendship not casual sex. Casual sex has serious consequences. “
- Arm yourself with knowledge. You need to know the meaning of words like “objectification,” “dismemberment,” “unrealistic perfection,”sexualization,” and “social isolation” as they are promoted though media images. When you spot one of these media weapons, you can “disarm” the message by saying, “See how those ads only highlight certain body parts (breasts, thighs, face, midriff)? This is called “dismemberment.” You are not just a collection of body parts. Every part of you is valuable, especially your heart.”
- Join our #lovethegirl campaign. Help us challenge the toxic images of our media culture and flood the world with positive messages that protect girls’ self-esteem.
Healthy Transitions for Girls is a strength-based curriculum (294 page book and 66 pageworkbook) to promote POSITIVE BODY IMAGE in girls ages 8 to 14. This “ESSENTIAL Prevention Tool” can help you and the girls you love to become “media detectives.”
To learn how you can get the Healthy Transitions for Girls Workbook, click on the picture below: