Shielding children from the media

A friend of mine (who actually has a daughter) posted a link to this article on PBS' website titled, "Raising a Powerful Girl." Most of the topics they address I think can and should be applied to raising boys as well. One topic in particular stood out to me and has had me thinking for a few days: "Limit your daughter's [and we'll add 'son's'] exposure to the media and popular culture when she is young."

Now I don't advocate parenting to the point of over-protectiveness, but I completely agree that there is every reason in the world for us to shield our young children from the media. Children (boys AND girls) need to see healthy, real-life examples of relationships, bodies, and life. If it isn't already obvious, they will not get that in the media.

I take the approach that I should be living what I want to teach my children, so I think the best way to shield my own children from the media is to not absorb it myself. I rarely watch TV and when I do, it's after the kids are in bed. I don't read magazines, particularly gossip magazines, where unhealthy advertisements abound, so I have nothing to hide around the house.

And when the time comes to acknowledge the fact that I can't protect them from everything, I hope that I am the kind of parent that can have an open, honest, and humorous dialogue with my kids about what they're seeing.

How will you protect your children (or nieces or nephews or grandchildren or siblings...) from the media?


Review of Miss Representation

I have FINALLY come around to talk about the documentary "Miss Representation." Overall, I loved it.

At first I was a little worried that I was going to be bombarded by the atrocious examples of "sex sells" advertising, but after the intro and set up, we mostly were drawn in by some valuable statistics and amazing interviews with women in the media industry and politics. Some of my favorites were Geena Davis, Condoleeza Rice, and Katie Couric, who all gave what I felt to be honest and insightful evaluations of themselves, their work, and what our country expects of women in their fields.

Ultimately, what I took away from it (and I've been dwelling on it for weeks, hence the delay in a review), is that we women owe it to not just ourselves, but to women everywhere, to pursue politics, creative avenues, science, or anything that we enjoy or find we are good at. Since watching the documentary, I have been freshly inspired to work on some creative projects that I just wasn't making time for because I was constantly telling myself that I didn't have time. Other people need me right now. Well, it's important to make sure my kids are changed and fed, but it's also important for them to see me pursuing things that I know God has gifted me with. Otherwise, how will they believe me when I tell them that they can be anything they want to be? How will girls all over the country believe that they can be anything they want to be if there just aren't any women forging the way in the media?

Is there something that you would love to accomplish or a career that you would like to explore, but haven't because you don't believe you can?


Steps to move your focus away from outward appearance

Relevant Magazine posted an article this morning about the dangers in focusing on outward appearance. But beyond just stating that it's harmful, author Fileta laid out specific steps to help yourself curb the negative thought process behind this fixation on outward beauty.

I believe all four steps are doable and important to incorporate into our daily thoughts and actions if we are to see a change. ("Be the change you want to see in the world" and all that.) Step #2 - specifically "take inventory of what is coming out of your mouth" - has been something I've been working to be conscious of lately. How can I instill confidence in my friends and children if I'm putting myself down publicly?

At first this realization came specifically when talking to my girlfriends about our weight. I don't particularly care how much I weigh or what my friends weigh, but the only way to SHOW that I don't care is to not talk about it - at least not criticize myself about it. It's easy to just get caught up in that kind of conversation because so many of us are self-conscious about our figures thanks to societal standards and mainstream media, but I challenge you to refrain. Refrain from lamenting your larger-than-you'd-wish pant size. Refrain from publicly holding yourself to some unreasonable time frame for shedding the baby weight. Refrain from joining in the conversation of critiquing celebrity physique or even your mutual friends.

Even if you feel these things inwardly, one tangible step you can take in changing your own perspective AND positively influencing your friends at the same time is to hold your tongue and direct the conversation to things worthy of our attention and time - things like philosophy, the arts, politics, and our families.


Miss Representation

Have you seen the trailer for "Miss Representation" circling Facebook? I finally checked it out today, only to discover that this intriguing documentary is airing on OWN (Oprah's channel) tomorrow night at 8 ET/9 CT. While I would love to attend a screening, or even host one, time does not permit me to do that right now and there are no showings anywhere I'm going to be over the next few months. So I'm having my friends DVR it and I'll review it.

Some things already stuck out to me in the trailer though. For one, Jennifer Pozner claims that the media is to blame and it's not our fault that women are portrayed sexually, devalued, etc. etc. etc. I disagree and plan to elaborate on that later. Second, this statistic left me flabbergasted: "Women hold only 3% of clout positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing, and advertising." THREE PERCENT?! That's astonishing, and quite frankly, telling.

So if you have cable, this is my post encouraging you to check out this documentary. Or better yet, find a screening near you. Even better still, host one where they haven't got one yet!


Penalties for men who buy sex

Newsweek has run an article on an extensive study of men who buy sex. I am so glad to see that major news organizations are shedding light on the "consumer" and "demand" for the purchase of women as objects and how great of a problem it truly is. While there are factors like education and poverty to be addressed on the victim's side of the issue, solutions to those problems will never be effective if we don't cut down the demand.

Page 5 of the article states, "Striking developments abroad are also influencing policies in the United States. In 1999 Sweden decided that prostitution was a form of violence against women and made it a crime to buy sex, although not to sell it. This approach dramatically reduced trafficking, whereas the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands, Germany, and much of Australia led to an explosive growth in demand that generated an increase in trafficking and other crimes. Sweden’s success in dealing with the problem has persuaded other countries to follow suit."

What kind of penalties do you think would act as effective deterrents for men who purchase sex?


+2 points for Victoria Beckham; my thoughts on shaving

People quoted Victoria Beckham as saying, "I like little girls to look like little girls" and I whole-heartedly agree. Bikinis for 6-year-olds, high heels for babies...it's all kind of gross in my opinion.

And on the flip side, I think full-grown, adult women should look like adult women. What I mean by that is, striving to look like a pre-pubescent with gangly limbs and no hair ANYWHERE is similarly gross to me.

I haven't done any research on this, it's just a hypothesis and theory, but I don't think the model that our media portrays (and we follow suit in re-emphasizing) that completely shaved as the ideal does anything to help men find the value and beauty in women their age. Does it make sense to anyone else that shaving yourself to look like a little girl only aids in young girls and CHILDREN being viewed as sexual objects? I know it's a stretch, but I don't think it's ludicrous.


Focusing on the inward

As I've talked to people/parents/my husband about what causes a young girl to grow up so focused on her outward appearance, I've drawn the conclusion that it's what she sees that becomes what she considers normal. If her mother is focused on her outward appearance, so she will be. If her father is constantly commenting on outward appearances of her mom, other women, or she herself, she will find that is what is worthy to a man.

Apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed this, and this author is making a conscious effort to focus on inward characteristics when talking to young girls.

I know my own mom didn't talk much about her appearance or what physically made her self-conscious, and I believe that I owe her for the self-confidence and high values I hold on other characteristics.

Do you think what we talk about to or in front of young children makes a difference in how they develop their worldview?

How much did your parents focus on outward vs. inward characteristics and how do you think that affected you?