Our daughters today are barraged on all sides with messages telling them how they should look. While this is dangerous in itself with limiting their scope of who they can be, it can also carry very dangerous secondary afflictions affecting health and both physical and mental.
As a father of a young girl soon to be entering her teens, I’ve become very sensitive to these messages my daughter is seeing in music, movies, books, and even TV commercials. These messages of the need to be sexy even at her age are not the messages I want shaping my daughter’s sense of self.
Lesson One: Nothing About Her Body is Shameful
When advertisers are using sex to sell something as inane as a hamburger, it sends the message that our daughters are only as good as their looks. They need to be a certain height, a certain weight. If they have freckles, or puffy cheeks, or anything else that makes them unique, it’s a bad thing that should be hidden.
No. Women are people, and people come in all shapes, sizes, and orders of uniqueness and individuality. We need to make sure our girls love and appreciate who they are, exactly as they are. It’s not important that their eyes slant perfectly, or that they’re below an unhealthy weight limit. As parents, we need to help them see that what’s important is that they’re healthy, happy, and confident, not just in who they are, but in their ability to tell the world that says they’re not good enough, “No, I’m beautiful.”
Lesson Two: We’re in This Together
This means two things: we as parents need to be sure to point out the sexism in the media when we see it and have conversations about it, but also to encourage our daughters to see it for themselves.
As long as we keep the communication open, we help them feel comfortable in coming to us with questions. By teaching them to see it on their own, we help them not only think critically about the messages they’re taking in, but also point it out to others.
When we give our children a wealth of information and help teach them how to think and not what to think, they learn to think for themselves. In time, this gives them the confidence to stand up for themselves when confronted with those that feel a woman is only as good as her waistline.
Together, we can help our daughters love and accept who they are, ensuring a happy and healthy future.