Teen girls in the media

May 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Solutions and strategies for parents explaining the depiction of teen girls in the media.

Author and coach Courtney Macavinta is founder of RespectRx.com which empowers girls, women and their advocates through blogs, workshops, and her best-selling book for teen girls, RESPECT.

Buy the book on Amazon: Respect: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect & Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed

Courntey Macavinta's tips for talking to your teen about girls in the media:

Miley Cyrus' sexy Vanity Fair photo shoot and her subsequent offer from Playboy are on the tips of collective tongues everywhere. Add in the sexy new Gossip Girl ad currently making waves--and the trend of disturbing girl fight videos being posted on the web--and it's no wonder that many parents are obviously concerned about how their daughters are being influenced by these media blasts and celebrity role models. Here are some tips to deal with the issue and make the most of media "buzz" moments to learn more about your daughter and the culture she's living in:

* Step No. 1: Get primed on girl culture

Be aware of the media hype and sexy sensationalism that your daughters are marinating in everyday and everywhere! Accept that girls are going to be exposed to media no matter what controls you put in place. The key is staying on top of their media "diet" by checking out the blogs, web sites, magazines, TV shows and films that girls-or their friends-are obsessed with so you are informed enough to have honest conversations with them about hot topics.

* Step No. 2: Chat about hot topics

Parents can use media buzz moments like the Miley Cyrus photo controversy to have honest conversations with their daughters about their celebrity role models and how they feel media is affecting them-or not. If you really want to know how media and advertising and online social networks are influencing their daughters, ask open, non-judgmental questions like:

  • What did you think about the Miley Cyrus photos?
  • If you were in her shoes, what would you have done?
  • How do you feel about her now?
  • What do you think about the Gossip Girls ads?
  • What do you like or not like about that show?
  • What are some reasons you think girls would post fight videos on the web?
  • Does this happen with your friends, too?
  • How are you and your friends affected by all this stuff?

* Step No 3: Talk about role models

One role parents can play is to help girls dig deeper when it comes to who they idealize. Again, don't judge their role models; just ask juicy questions, like:

  • What do you love about (fill in the blank)?
  • What about her to do you admire?
  • Besides what she's famous for, what is she into or what does she do that you think is positive?
  • What kinds of things do you think should make women and girls famous or admired?
  • If every girl in the world were to look up to you as a role model, what would you want them to see about the real you?

* Step No. 4: Empower your daughter to create change

Girls are not blindly going for every advertising trick and media stunt they see. If they could have it their way, what would they be promoting when it comes to TV, magazines and the web? If they are turned off or annoyed by what they see, ask them:

  • What do you think causes (the problem they've identified)?
  • What are some ideas you have to change this?
  • What are some steps you can your friends could take to make a change?

* Step No. 5: Try not to overreact or judge

Many girls not only love media and entertainment, but take it one step further by creating it indie-style and aspiring to work in this field in the future. So if you "put down" their media, they might dismiss and shut you down. So respect and know that they are often just as concerned about the hot button issues as parent are these days. Try not to get too frustrated about "kids today" or focused on completely locking down their media access. Instead, keep asking powerful questions and listening to your daughter's point of view and ideas to make changes. She will feel more empowered, and you'll sleep better at night knowing that she is actively analyzing her world and learning about her likes and dislikes and wants to change.

For more tips, visit: www.respectrx.com


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