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How to Talk to Little Girls - Latina Fatale

Yes, modern media still has prevalent gender stereotypical commercials, male dominant roles, overtly sexist advertisements using female sex appeal to sell male products, or even to sell female products in the hope that it will appeal to and ingrained desire to be the defined societal “beautiful”. But, there is an alarming trend for both genders now. A media reinforced demoted role for both. It’s best visible in many commercials () where the female roles are service oriented (cooking, cleaning, child care) and the male roles are typically idiots, demeaning and incompetent. Lots of these commercials often have both stereotypes portrayed. The example of these commercials is only the tip of the iceberg, similar gender inequalities can be found in children’s cartoons, television shows, and even films.

Yes, and you can also make it specific

During my time as a stay home parents for both my daughters – two years apart – I had to inform my in laws about exactly this due to their insistence on focusing upon their looks-clothes and how “cute” and beautiful they are. Of course they did not mean the harm they were causing and although they were confused and dumbfounded by telling them they have to stop these compliments. Most men understand that societies expectation upon women – their bodies, hair, clothes, and the rest is far greater then men. Men can be overweight and dress poorly and get by. I had this conversation with the in-laws about eight years ago. The in-laws looked at my wife with anger thinking she would over ride what I was saying and she said I was right and they needed to stop all the attention to their looks and appearance.

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I appreciated your article and wholeheartedly agree. Here is where I struggle and why I intentionally point out ALL traits I see in the young girls (and young boys) I work with as a school counselor…no one, not even my parents, said that I was pretty. My mother always said “pretty is as pretty does” and then she never complimented me…so I felt I never did anything right either. I didn’t feel exceptionally smart or talented, just good at doing the laundry. Now as an adult woman I struggle with self esteem, facial and body image. I truly believe if just one significant person in my life had told me I was beautiful I wouldn’t seek it in unhealthy ways. I tell students they are dressed nicely for school, I get excited when I hear them reading, I point out how glad I am to see them because they make me smile and I do all of this to fat, skinny, homely, beautiful, intelligent, special ed and struggling students. I believe EACH child is beautiful and they need to know it… not the beauty that the world holds but the beauty that they each hold. We can always find ONE good thing about a kid and make sure to tell them out loud, so others hear it! I also believe modeling appropriate work attire, coming to work with my hair done and ready to hit the ground running are good examples to students. There are days I wear no makeup and no jewelry…kids see me as less put together these days. I just tell them that I wanted to look more simple today but I’m still here to work for them…they accept that. The messages that we give children are so powerful and we are powerful force for good when we empower them to see the beauty inside of themselves and not look for approval from the world. I wish someone had done that for me!

I don’t think it is wrong to tell a girl she is pretty or a boy he is handsome. My dad always told the world how beautiful his daughters were. However he also told me I had common sense and supported me when I went to college. My mom taught me a love for books, and many other things that brought me joy.
Most of all though I was given a foundation of who God was and I believe the most important thing we can do for our children and grandchildren is tell them that they are made in the image and likeness of our creator and that he has created them for a purpose that far outweighs anything they could even imagine on their own. I think everyone including girls need to know the purpose of why they are here. God created us to honor and serve and love Him with all of our hearts and He created us so we could reach our fullest potential whether we are a girl or a boy. I think the reason young girls are becoming so obsessed with appearance is because that is the culture they are growing up in. God has been kicked out of the classroom and out of a lot of the homes … and been replaced with media …that displays girls and women as overly sexualized images of what they are supposed to be.

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Nicole, I am so glad you said this. And disheartened by how many comments I had to read before coming across yours. Similarly, I was a child who was told by pretty much everyone that I was smart, accomplished, clever, witty… every compliment that theoretically counts. But I was never told I was pretty or beautiful. And that is the one that sticks. In my adulthood, I have often been told that I am. Beautiful, that is. But I don’t believe it. Not in my heart of hearts. It sounds cheap and insincere now.
They are not mutually exclusive. Girls can be both clever and pretty. And we want to and should believe that we are both of these things.

You presume there is a causal link between parents/adults telling children they’re beautiful and the risk of developing body image issues. I think this is simplistic and I’m not at all convinced it’s accurate. Besides your lack of empirical evidence, from my own experience I had disordered eating behaviours for years when I was younger and I can tell you categorically it wasn’t because my parents told me I was beautiful too much; on the contrary!

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I believe that beauty can be find in kindness and in friendship. At first I thought that beauty was only found in pretty people and that the only beauty that excited was the physical beauty. As I grew up my perspective for beauty continued to be the same never really pay so much attention to this simple word “beauty” for me it was just like any other word out there. Now what I believe is that beauty can be found anywhere, it’s all around us even in the places where you last expect it. Beauty isn’t only about look is about what you have inside of you or what we call inter beauty.

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