Yesterday, we discussed Self-Objectification and Low Self-Esteem.
I loath problems without solutions and complaints that make us feel powerless. So, here's a list of 10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification and Sexualization of Girls.
* Media Literacy - talk to girls about the images they see. Point it out when there is obvious digital retouching like in Keira Knightly Stands Up for Her Girls and Yours.
Watch Dove's Onslaught campaign with her and discuss it. If it's age-appropriate take her to the Natural Breast Gallery and talk about how different the images of women in media are than the bodies of real women. Tell her about Photoshop and discuss the motives of the media to sell products by misrepresenting women's bodies.
* Athletics - A focus on the body that is nonsexual, athletics focuses on competency, agency and action. As participation in sports increases, participation in risky sexual-activity decreases. Taekwondo and soccer are good choices. The report sites cheerleading and dance as less empowering types of athletics due to the focus on appearance, sexiness, and thinness.
* Extracurricular Activities - Girl Scouts, band, after-school programs like Girls Inc., drama club, band, computer or video gaming clubs give girls an alternative to activities that focus on their appearance.
* Comprehensive Sexuality Education - "A central way to help youth counteract distorted views presented by the media and culture about girls, sex and the sexualization of girls is comprehensive sex education. Programs must include accurate information about reproduction and contraception, the importance of delaying intercourse initiation for young people, and the building of communication skills, and promotes a notion of sexual responsibility that includes respect for oneself and an emphasis on consensual, non-exploitative sexual activity."
* Co-Viewing Media with Parents - Parental comment on media children are exposed to is key to altering the influence of the messages. Watch TV with girls and comment on the messages. Contradict stereo-typical behavior when you see it, share your insights on advertising and media. Co-viewing also reduces the amount of inappropriate material children see.
* Religion, Spirituality and Meditation - organized religious and other ethical instruction actively combat the values conveyed by popular culture. When parents teach girls they are "more than their bodies" girls benefit. Talk to your kids about your idea of her whole self, and that "who they are" makes them valuable outside of their sexuality or gender roles. Insisting that girls remain girls and not be pushed into a precocious sexuality is something many churches do. Encourage meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer to teach girls to get in touch with their bodies and themselves as spiritual beings.
* Activism by Parents and Families - encourage girls to become their own activists by being one yourself. Join Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to fight sexualizing and objectifying messages in marketing. Get involved in The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Take your daughter to a Dove BodyTalk, Campaign for Real Beauty Self Esteem Workshop. Sign your daughter up for the Girl Scouts Uniquely Me program.
* Alternative Media - Cancel the Tiger Beat subscription and subscribe to Girl Zone. Get your daughter involved in writing or producing her own media - a website or blog is simple enough. Stone Soup is a literary magazine written by children. Write your daughter a book about her. Most digital photography websites like Mypublisher.com will allow you to publish a storybook about your daughter, using images of her, in a beautiful hardbound book for $30. Throw out the Disney Princess books and videos and get some empowering alternatives like Princess Bubble.
* Confront Your Body Issues - If you, the mother, have a history of self-objectification or poor body image confront it and deal with it before you pass it down. Refuse to self-deprecate or equate your own value to how thin you are or how you look.
* Be The Empowered Woman - If you find yourself buying into gender-stereotypes in your own life, being too passive, not saying "no", holding yourself to an impossible standard of perfection, running yourself ragged to be everything to everyone - Stop It. She will emulate you. A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against a low self-esteem, said Naomi Wolf.
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