“Media messages screaming “thin is in” may not directly cause eating disorders, but they help to create the context within which people learn to place a value on the size and shape of their body.” – National Eating Disorders Association
My girlfriend sent me a text this morning saying, “My daughter just had a tantrum because she did not like how her belly looked in a bikini.” Shocked? No? Heard it before right? Well, what if I told you her daughter is three. Three years old and she not only is looking at the mirror in a deconstructive way but she’s internalizing media messages and influences. At first I thought she must be a very bright three-year old, but when I revisited toddler television shows, I realized she may be smart, but that’s not the motivating factor. Children’s television is infiltrating the minds of preschoolers through clever, imaginative devices that seem so innocuous many parents may not see the negative messages.
Check these out:
· Dora the Explorer has grown up and there is now a svelte, beautiful version of her. No longer does Dora have a little belly, bad bangs, and a round face. Grown up Dora has stick-thin legs, long, flowing hair, and a cute button nose. Possibly her career was in jeopardy if she didn’t lose the baby fat and look more Caucasian?
· Sesame Street has always been one of our most beloved shows both for the characters and for the content. So, why allow Katy Perry to wear a revealing dress, which clearly emphasizes her chest and legs? Maybe young girls have listened to her upbeat songs from an older sister or a mom and now they see a woman in a tight, short dress with a body they can’t help but emulate.
· Several remakes of cartoons we watched as kids show very inappropriate young women in even more inappropriate clothes. If your daughter hasn’t seen the new Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes make sure she doesn’t!
As a parent and as the owner of G.I.R.L.S., a teenage girls empowerment company, there are many things to be vigilant of. Until I wrote this blog, though, I thought TV for toddlers was not one of those things…apparently, I was wrong! Albert Einstein said “you cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time,” so pick your battles and help your daughters feel good about themselves now before they look in the mirror and think their strong, healthy bodies are undesirable.
Find out more ways you can support your daughter at www.mygirlsgroup.org or “like” G.I.R.L.S. on Facebook.