How Media is Effecting Your Teenage Daughter
Eye roll, hair flip, “whatever”. If these three things are occurring in your home more frequently than rinse, lather, repeat, chances are you are living with a teenage girl. While our teen girls may challenge us in ways we thought only happened in movies or to other parents, how can we as parents, counselors, coaches, and mentors help them navigate the ups and downs of these years to become the upstanding women we always knew they could be? The key to answering this question is knowing what’s behind the eye roll and identifying the area where teen girls tend to struggle the most: their self-esteem.
Casey Claypool, a mental health therapist and child mental health specialist from Vancouver, Washington, suggests one cause to the low self-esteem epidemic is due to the way the media portrays women. She explains:
Within the majority of teen culture, there has not been much of an emphasis on inner-beauty and service to the community; rather, the culture highly emphasizes the importance of outer appearance, sexuality, competition, and conformity. You can see evidence of this on the cover of gossip magazines, the character quality in reality television, and the lyrical content in top-40 radio. Clearly this is not the only factor in the struggle for teen self-worth. This really is a systemic problem. With the advent of Facebook and Smartphones, girls are now encouraged to post pictures, comment, and gossip about each other. It is common and seemingly culturally acceptable to objectify themselves and each other through these modes. If we are to evolve beyond this societal struggle, we must encourage and teach our young girls to develop their inner-self and to build a foundation that can weather the storm of hormonal upheavals, first break-ups, and speech class. It is not new news that the images they are subjected to are unrealistic and unobtainable. However, these messages still find their way into the subconscious minds of impressionable youth. These messages are some of the primary factors that undermine a girl’s sense of self and worth to society.
With so much talk about the challenges of having low self-esteem, what can be done to help our girls feel better about themselves? Claypool notes that, “We need a better awareness of how media effects us. We can help girls by teaching them to tune in to how certain media effects how they feel about themselves and the world around them. Our kids are being programmed to mimic what they are seeing on TV, such as the Kardashians.”
Our girls have an uphill battle to face due to the power of the media. However, this power can be swayed back in a positive direction with the right guidance, love, and support from those who care the most about girls: the adults in their lives. Even if our support is met with eye rolls and hair flips, deep down inside there is an emerging, confident young woman who will be forever grateful for how she was supported during her teen years. And if fate has its way, which it usually does, our daughters will all be blessed with daughters of their own some day.
Quiz: How is Media Impacting Your Self-Esteem?
1) Do you ever feel bad about yourself for not owning something?
2) Have you ever felt that people might like you more if you owned a certain item?
3) Has an ad made you feel that you would like yourself more, or that others would like you more if you owned the product the ad is selling?
4) Do you worry about your looks? Have you ever felt that people would like you more if your face, body, skin or hair looked different?
5) Has an ad ever made you feel that you would like yourself more, or others would like you more, if you changed your appearance with the product the ad was selling?
Written by Justin Farrell