Parenting Lessons: Step Three: Lessen the impact of media images

How do you think your daughter feels when she sees a Victoria's Secret commercial featuring a long-legged, full-breasted model clad in skimpy underwear? What about when she leafs through pages of a fashion magazine or watches a favorite female movie star on the big screen? In the same way that you might measure yourself against these images, so does your daughter. In fact, she's even more impressionable.

In a People magazine survey, thirty-seven percent of women ages 18 to 55 said that the portrayal of women on television and in the movies makes them feel insecure about their bodies.

Several studies in the field of body-image research link growing dissatisfaction with appearance to the ultra-thin bodies reflected in the media. In fact, it seems that wherever Western magazines, billboards, movies and television are found, so too is the drive to be reed thin. One 13-year-old, for example, keeps motivated to stay thin by taping a picture of pop princess Britney Spears to her mirror. "When I get bigger than Britney, I know my body is looking gross," says the teen - who usually wears a size 4, but who prefers a size 1. It is not uncommon for girls to study thin bodies in fashion magazines and then cut out and tape a favorite image to their mirror. With each glance, a girl is reminded of what she is not.

As parents, we can work to lessen the impact of the media and increase body comfort in our daughters by helping them question and challenge the unrealistic stereotypes they see, and to identify with more realistic role models.


Next page: Teaching what it takes for models to really become "Camera Ready"

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