Next Twitter Chat 10/13! What to do about Pornified Halloween Costumes for Girls?

halloween_cop-150x150You probably don’t need someone to tell you that there has been a major shift in the “point” of Halloween lately as it pertains to young girls. We’ve moved from creative, scary, or funny costumes to sexy, sexier, and sexiest. Even childhood favorites, known for their youthful innocence have been pornified.

blog_halloween1-150x150Just check out Red Ridinghood and Alice in Wonderland. Interestingly, when I pressed on these tween/teen blog_halloween2 costumes, the costumes that came up under “compare similar items that customers also browsed were: “Red Hoodie- Sexy” and “Disney Aladdin Sassy”. Uh huh. That says a lot.

One of the things I find deeply disturbing is that marketing and wording is saving the butts of the advertisers. Remember when the ad for the sexualized push-up bra for 7 year olds became the fodder for firestorm a few months back? The advertisers merely changed the label of this item to “triangle swimsuit.” Somehow this was supposed to address the sexualization issue. Not exactly the solution we were looking for.

blog_halloween3-300x225Well, here we are again. Take a good look at these two “Little Bo Peep” costumes. The first is labeled “Little Bo Peep Tween Costume.” The second is labeled “Sexy Little Bo Peep Costume.” The first is size “preteen”, obviously, for tweens. The blog_halloween4 second is meant for adults. See a big difference? No? Hmmm. Look again.  Still no? Yeah. Me neither. The teddy bear is a nice attempt to making the whole costume feel a bit more youthful…dominatrix. And she is in flats rather than boots, right? Ugh.

(My colleague, Melissa Wardy, did an interesting comparison of the “cop costumes,” among others).

The issue here is that one costume after another is sexualized. Girls tell us that they feel they have 2 choices: Sexy or prudish. One of cool and daring, the other is lame and boring. Here is one teen’s explanation, more in depth.

So what are we supposed to do? Let’s talk about it. After a successful and intriguing twitter chat last month on the sexualization of girls, we’d love to invite you to join us on Thursday, October 13, 2011, at 9pm EST, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, and 6pm Pacific to our #girlsnow chat (formally #SaveGirlHood).

A peak at our powerful crew:

blog_audrey-brashich-300x226Audrey Brashich

 

Audrey Brashich has been involved in teen and women’s journalism since 1993. She’s worked and written for magazines such as Sassy, YM, Seventeen, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Teen People, Lucky, Shape, Ms., Health and others. Her work focuses primarily on body image and understanding media influences–and she’s the author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2006). Audrey has appeared on TV and radio in the US and Canada (CNN, NBC, CBS, Canada’s CBC). Her commentary has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Vancouver Sun, The Seattle Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, The Toronto Star and many others. She’s served on the board of directors for Mind on the Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering critical analysis of media messages, and consulted with national organizations such as Girls Inc. on their programming and policies for girls.

Amy Harman

blog_amy-harman-200x300Amy Harman is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a wife and mother. She has worked as a therapist for several years, most recently as a therapist for women and girls with eating disorders. Because of her work with women and the examples of strong women around her, she has developed a desire help women realize their worth. While taking a break from working full-time, she has created a website to empower women by strengthening relationships and improving mental and emotional well-being. Visit her blog at becomingabetterwoman.com, follower her on Twitter @beabetterwoman, or like her Facebook page. Amy is concerned about the sexualization of young girls because part of becoming a better woman is leaving a better world to those who will be the women of tomorrow. In working with girls struggling with eating disorders, she has seen the harmful impact sexualized messages can make on young minds. She believes we have a duty to teach children the positive aspects of womanhood through example, discussion, and activism.

robyn_purple42-200x300Dr. Robyn Silverman

 

Dr. Robyn Silverman is a body image expert, parenting resource and child & teen development specialist who appears regularly on national TV such as The Today Show and Good Morning America. An award-winning writer, professional speaker and success coach, she has been the content consultant for 17 books and writes a character education/leadership curriculum called Powerful Words for top level after-school programs worldwide. Her most recent book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It, is based on her passion to help all girls reach their potential and highlight their strengths rather than their deficits. To learn more, please visitDrRobynSilverman.com, follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/DrRobynSilverman, or on twitter at @DrRobyn. You can also book Dr. Robyn for a speaking engagement: Please contact Dr. Robyn’s speaker’s bureau, American Program Bureau, Inc., or call her speaking agent Nancy Eisenstein directly at: 800.225.4575 Ext 1616 We can help our girls (and our boys!) thrive!

Nancy Gruver

blog_nancy-gruverNancy Gruver is founder of the groundbreaking safe social network and magazine for girls ages 8 and up, New Moon Girls, author of How To Say It® To Girls: Communicating With Your Growing Daughter(Penguin Putnam, 2004) and blogs on girls’ issues, parenting, and media. www.newmoon.com & www.daughters.com

blog_melissa-atkins-wardy-226x300Melissa Wardy

Melissa Wardy is the creator/owner of Pigtail Pals www.pigtailpals.com. A business owner, writer, and children’s advocate, her work has appeared on CNN, FOX News, and in the Ms. Magazine blog. She is the mom to a 5yo girl and 3yo boy and wants to see some big changes in the children’s marketplace. What originally began in 2009 as an empowering online t-shirt shop for little girls has now grown into a large online boutique that carries goods with the message to Redefine Girly and recognize our girls as “Smart ~ Daring ~ Adventurous”. We also have a line of tees for little boys called Curious Crickets. In 2010 Melissa began the Redefine Girly blog to educate parents on issues of gender stereotypes and sexualization that our children face. The blog and parent community quickly became known as the go-to place for parents to discuss these issues. In 2011 Melissa started presenting Media Literacy workshops for parents and educators helping them to understand how girlhood was changing, and in 2012 you’ll be able to read her book that brings everything full circle. Let’s change the way we think about our girls.

Hope to see you all, Thursday, October 13, at 9pm EST, 8pm CT, 7pm Mountain, and 6pm Pacific! Together; let’s talk about #GirlsNow!

drrobynsig170

 

7 Lessons The Life of Steve Jobs Can Teach Children (and Parents)

blog_stevejobsSteve Jobs, innovator, inventor, and game-changer died yesterday at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer.  The news of his death, while bringing on mourning of an amazing thinker, prompted those who revered and respected him to focus on his noteworthy influence on the current way we live, work, and enjoy entertainment.  It got me thinking.  What can our children learn—and how can our parenting be influenced—from looking at the contributions and life path of Steve Jobs?

  1. Enjoy what you do: Steve Jobs talked about how important it is to enjoy the work you do—and if you don’t like the work you are doing, to keep searching for what you love. As children, we all have things we have to do but there is always time to concentrate on what you love as well. What is it?  Don’t do something simply because your friend does it, all the kids in the area do it, your brother or sister did it, or your parents played it or participated in it as a child. As parents, that means, we need to step back and allow our children’s passion to emerge rather than forcing them to commit to something because of an outside reason.  Support them in trying different things and then, allow them to choose based on what they love.
  2. Encourage experimentation and creativity: No one can argue that Steve Jobs wasn’t a master at creativity.  He invented something that simply didn’t exist before. What does that say to our children? Childhood is a time of exploration.  There are such small risks—no one will dock your pay if your invention fails to work as planned, you will not be fired, tossed out on the street, or cut off from your family if you spend a few hours digging in the dirt, taking an old clock radio apart, or walking in the woods pretending you are on an animal safari. In fact, you may just discover something amazing. As a parent, that means, allow your children to feel, think, take things apart, put them back together, or make something completely different from the materials.  Let them believe that there are no wrong answers, just undiscovered ones.  They may just figure something out that will bowl you over.
  3. All paths are not conventional: After careful thought and introspection, Steve Jobs dropped out of college. He expressed that he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.  Then he started taking classes that excited him.  He tells a story about taking a typography class that, while unknown at the time, influenced the various fonts that Apple provided a few years later when the personal computer was invented…in his garage.   Childhood is not a paint by numbers experience.  I’m not saying that people should drop out of school, hole up in the garage and see what happens. That would be a ridiculous interpretation. What I’m saying is that children need to take healthy risks based on insightful thought.  What are they doing simply because it is the path usually taken and what are they doing because it is the right path for them?  As parents, that means we need to ask ourselves what’s best for our specific child.  It takes strength and faith.  That may mean having your child participate in a different kind of school, activity, trip, retreat, or experience.  It may mean asking your child to spend time setting goals and envisioning what s/he really wants.  It most definitely means we need to listen–really listen–to what they have to say.
  4. Everyone has the capacity to change the world: Steve Jobs was adopted by parents who hadn’t gone to college, weren’t well off, and weren’t what someone would call “connected” to high-powered people.  What does that mean for our children? There is no excuse not to achieve your personal greatness.  Everyone has gifts to share but they must cultivate them and go for it.  As parents, that means, we need to see our children in terms of their assets rather than their deficits.  So many of parents compare, contrast, and wonder why their child falls short of a standard set by the neighbor’s son, their cousin’s daughter, or the fictitious ideal child set in the minds of the family.  When we do that, we fail to see the child who stands before us.  What is your child passionate about? What are his gifts? How can you help to ignite the S.P.A.R.K. within him so he can truly shine?
  5. There is success in failure: When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he bought Pixar and made a huge splash with the mega-hits Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Animation techniques changed, story telling was revamped, and the movie industry was forever changed.  Our children need to learn that when they don’t make the team, don’t get the part in the play, or are even painfully cast out by a former friend, it may be just the thing that provides the space for greatness.  When I was in college, I didn’t get into a singing group I auditioned for—and I was really upset.  I found out that had I gotten in, I wouldn’t have been able to spend my Junior year abroad at my dream school, Oxford University in England.  That year abroad changed my perspective as much as it changed my life. There is success in failure.  As parents, it means that we need to help our children find the silver lining when things don’t go as planned.  We need to model being optimistic and hopeful that success comes with trying and failure is one more step towards success.  We need to point out when a gift or opportunity comes along because a previous failure made room for it.
  6. What goes around comes around: In 1996, Apple bought NeXt, and in an amazing twist of fate, Steve Jobs wound up back at Apple, helping the then struggling company come back to life.  Having left feeling embarrassed and stripped, he returned wiser and refreshed.  His innovation meant the creation of the Ipod a few years later, and Apple was back in the game with a vengeance. What can our children learn from this? They can learn that goodbye doesn’t always mean goodbye forever and that a break from what you always do may mean an opportunity for growth.  Hiatus from a relationship can allow perspective. Submerging yourself in new responsibilities can be freeing.  Learning something new can revitalize and rejuvenate. As parents, that means that there are times to ensure your child’s commitment and there are times when a break from the norm may be the best parenting choice you can make.  Time away doesn’t need to be seen as a time of interruption but rather, room for innovation.
  7. You never know: When Steve Jobs invented the personal computer, it hadn’t been done before.  When Toy Story came out, the animation was the first of its kind.  Nothing like the Ipod was ever seen previously.  We must teach our children that doing the same things everyone else does, copying other people’s work, and following in someone else’s footsteps, is not the answer to discovering one’s own gifts.  There is value in mentorship, internship, practice, and skill acquisition, of course, but don’t be afraid to do something nobody ever did because that is how inventions are created.  As parents, that means, encourage healthy risks and don’t criticize when your child’s quirks lead him on an unexpected journey (as long as its done safely and with character).  Imagine what would have happened to so many great inventions if those in the lives of those creative people continually downplayed their gifts, their ideas, and the value of their path.  We need more inventors—more girls, boys, women and men, thinking about what is possible rather than what is logical and practical.  You just never know what they’ll come up with when they are given the freedom to try.

As I sit here and write this article on my Apple MacBook Pro, I send out my appreciation to the life and innovations of Steve Jobs.  But his life is so much more than the vehicle for creation.  It is a testament to what can happen when we let creativity, curiosity, and love for our passion lead us down our path…living each day as if it were our last, until it is.

In gratitude,

drrobynsig170

 

 

 

Fighting Weight Obsession: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat Revisited

ggdgf-cover-hi-res-192x300It’s been a year since the launch of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It. The book, based on 10 years of my own research, was born out of my dissertation at Tufts University and morphed into over 200 interviews of girls and women around the US who told me their personal story about weight, body image, struggles and triumphs. The video was born out of the book and was launched on October 5, 2010.

As I just spoke to a room full of Girl Scout leaders for the Power of Popular conference this past Sunday on this topic, I had to wonder, are things getting better or worse?

Well, perhaps it’s a bit of both.  I still talk to girls and women on a weekly basis who are struggling to accept themselves as they are.  Sometimes it’s more formal, like in a speaking setting or in a coaching session. Other times, it’s very casual– reiterating that the body bully within, as I call it, it alive, well, and sabotaging the well being of our girls. In fact, I just walked into a store on Saturday to get some moisturizer for my face when one of the young women who worked there started talking about hating her body, feeling fat, and not being happy…with herself…because of it.

And that’s representative. It still is true that the majority of girls and women wish they looked different than they did.  So much so, that when I presented the statistic from my book that 95% of girls between the ages of 16-21 want to change something about their bodies, someone shouted out from the audience, “Really? Only 95%?”

And that kind of reaction isn’t that surprising, is it? Photos of incredibly thin women are still rampant in fashion magazines. Girls are still valued or devalued based on their looks, dismembered part by part, sexualized, objectified, dumbed down, and “perfected” by the media that is supposed to be a glorified, fantasized reflection of actual society. This year we’ve seen the likes of push up bikinis for 7year olds, 10 year old models in women’s Vogue dressed, styled and positioned as an adult, 4 year olds in “loungerie,” and a recent glorified Halloween costume that incited collective anger due to its depiction of “Ana-rexia” as a “sexy” personified illness.  There are many more, of course, as Toddlers & Tiaras has become more mainstream and more people feel the need to push the envelope even if it means compromising our girls.

As I listened to the frustrated and shocked expressions of the Girl Scout leaders in the audience this weekend, I knew they were hungry for solutions.  They knew the girls who we spoke of from my book– they themselves brought up girls who were having the same issues.

Thankfully, there seem to be more and more people working on behalf of girls to help them receive positive messaging about themselves and their bodies.  As this is one of the solutions I talk about in my presentations, I find it really exciting to see that solution in action.

In my book, in chapter 9, I provide my Big Black Book of amazing organizations, websites, books, and people who are doing something to make the lives of girls better. Next Thursday, October 13th, at 9pm EST, I’ll be co-leading our second #SaveGirlhood twitter party (see details about our first here) with several of these amazing people.  More details to come! But just to get your thoughts going, we’ll be talking about Halloween costumes, our girls, body image, self esteem, and overall effects of sexualization and self objectification.  Hope you’ll be there!  I will be joined by my distinguished colleagues; Nancy Gruver of New Moon Girls Magazine, Audrey Brashich- of All Made Up,  Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals, and Amy Harman, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

You’ll want to follow our faithful crew who will be leading the discussion: @PigtailPals, @BeABetterWoman, @AudreyBrashich, @DrRobyn, and @Nancy_Newmoon.

Again, more details to come.

I know that what’s being thrown at girls can seem so overwhelming.  Let’s discuss it.  There are solutions out there– and I feel so blessed that I get to work and grow along side some of them!

Please let me know what you think of the video above and what struck you about weight obsession, body image, and asset development in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat.

Wishing you an awesome day!

drrobynsig170