“Media Literacy” is a buzz term around OpEd pieces that discuss the raising of girls. I’ve been watching and learning about it for a few years now, lying in wait for the day that Girl Child begins to turn inward and worry about things like her looks, what she’s wearing, when she’ll be developing, etc. I want very much to make sure that she’s guided through the gigantic maze of body image issues. I had plenty myself, and looking back, I was FINE. Better than fine. Pretty, even. I’m hoping to spare her the same self-torture by educating her on what’s real, and what’s unequivocally NOT real.
Girls and women are assaulted on the daily with what I call “Girl Mud Flap” body:
image: Nil Failstorm
What’s so insidious about trying to make this body type come to life is it’s not even real or attainable, yet it’s presented that way through manipulation. So, here are two videos I’ve shown Girl Child recently giving her a bird’s eye view of what really goes on after the pictures are taken, and how it can affect a woman’s body image.
Talking About Body Image
Love your body, ladies. Not so much for what it looks like, but what it can do, be, and endure.
And then here is the one I showed her where four perfectly lovely women were photographed and subsequently given The Photoshop Treatment. Watch their reactions to the changes made and how it may affect their body image going forward. (For the better!) Suddenly who they ARE crystallizes.
I am hopeful that because she was born with an imperfection and now has scars (which I tell her, “scars are stories.”) that she embrace all she’s been through, and realizes life is too short to not accept who you are inside and out. We are all so much more than the size of our breasts and what the tag says in our jeans. My hope is to guide her through these years and help her see herself as a whole entity, not simply the sum of her parts that she has compared to an impossible standard. One of the keys to this is being aware of how I talk about myself and my own body. I’m ok. So are you, and so is your daughter.
Increasingly, studies are showing that dating violence happens to 1 in 10 girls when they are in high school. HIGH SCHOOL. Ugh. Efforts are being made to introduce the subject earlier, before dating truly begins. You know, middle school. Where Girl Child is right now. I don’t think I’m quite ready to show her this video, and I don’t think she’s quite ready to see it, but I think it’s worth putting out in the world and sharing it. I believe both girls AND boys should watch when they are ready to take it in.
Ingrid Bergman in ‘Gas Light.’ Where we got the term gaslighting
I can even see, at this stage in her young life, some of her peers shaping themselves with a scary dynamic when it comes to these early stages of dating.
No one should lay a harmful hand on you, gaslight you, isolate you, or make you feel like you’re the only person who can save them from themselves. You will not die without them. They will not die without you.
Take the time to watch this, please. I think it’s one of the most important TED talks ever given.
Leslie Morgan Steiner on Dating Violence
Dating violence wasn’t anything I considered growing up. My parents said, “don’t let anyone hit you. Ever.” And while that’s excellent advice, it’s not enough anymore. From the first emotional manipulation to revenge porn and all that modern technology can bring, the conversation has evolved and our conversations as parents need to evolve with it.
Getting hit is the most obvious form of abuse, but the abuse begins long before the first fist is thrown. Arming our kids with the skills they need to navigate healthy dating relationships is not only a good idea, it’s necessary.
[fusion_text]Girl Child has reached an age where her emotional and mental maturity are starting to come together. And then you know what happens? Hormones. That’s what.
We are keeping an eye on what we think she is ready to hear and know about, and what she isn’t. This is harder than it sounds. We’re pretty open with her about all things human, but parsing out complicated details as we think she’s able to process them is a balancing act. She’s in the world. We want to help keep her innocence but not her naiveté.
Parenting is hard.
Growing Up Girl Child
So, I’m starting a little series on this blog to help me: Growing Up Girl Child. I’m combing around the internet looking or sites and videos that I post here, and will hopefully serve as a reference of sorts for her (and possibly anyone who stumbles on this blog) that she can utilize.
First up: “When Should I Start Dating?”
I’m going to let the good kids at Blimey Cow help out with this one. Blimey Cow is composed of two brothers and their friends (one brother is married, so she is part of the fun, too.) They post videos weekly on a variety of topics that are great for young people. They’re pretty good for older people too, because let’s face it, I need all the help I can get with this little project.
Visit their sponsor, while you’re at it, so they don’t send me a cease and desist order for sharing the video: Audible.com.
Stay tuned for more tween growing up fun. When she asks me tough questions, like, “Mom? Why did Adolf Hitler kill people?” Or, “Mom? I don’t understand what’s going on with me. Why do I feel like THIS?” I can actually come up with a half-way decent answer. Maybe. Hopefully.