The Right Media Message

“Children, even preschool children, are exposed to countless commercials and messages regarding weight loss, dieting products and beauty products. These messages, coupled with the anti-obesity campaign, promote the message that fat is bad,” said Jennifer Harriger lead researcher at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

As adults, we have been exposed to these messages and understand the pressure from the media to be perfect. Yet as adults, we have the tools and the experience to process reality from celebrity. Young people, especially young women, do not.

Give them the tools.

Teach girls to be savvy and critical media consumers. Resist the urge to simply lecture about what you think is inappropriate. Instead, ask them what they like about the movies and TV shows they watch and the magazines they read. What do they dislike? Talk about the difference between fantasy and reality by showing girls real examples of retouching. Point out how often retouching is used to make models and actors look artificially flawless. Other suggestions can be found in the article “5 Ways to Help Girls Resist the Pressure to be Perfect”, from the National Eating Disorders Association.

We can’t avoid the media. But we can help children handle the media in a healthy way.

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