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Why do we do this?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I was talking to one of my favorite moms yesterday, one who's opinion I really respect most of the time. We both have 13 year old girls. (Mine is a stepdaughter that is only with us every other weekend). We were talking about the pressure on girls to look "right" and fit in - I have been concerned about my DSD, she has been very mean lately to other girls who don't fit the "norm" - whatever that is... Anyway, I mentioned that I really hate that DSD is allowed to buy all the teen magazines (People, Cosmo Girl, Seventeen, etc.) She said that her daughter buys them too, even though she knows they aren't good for her.

So, while I have no control of DSD magazine purchases, this other mother does, but she lets her daughter buy them anyway. So why do we do this to our girls. I completely understand the need/desire to fit in, but I also attribute some of my independence to not fitting in when I was in Jr High. As mothers/parents do we want our kids to "fit in" so badly that we let them do/buy things that we don't agree with. And why is it so hard for us to put our foot down and say, No, it is not OK for you to be blitzed with all these media messages.

This has just been on my mind lately. I've seen this a lot with my DSD's friends and I don't understand it. Just wondering if anybody had thoughts on this.

post #2 of 10
My dd is only 2.5 but I am always thinking/worrying about these things when she gets older...I know when I was in jr high I fit in and was totally into those magazines...sometime in high school I figured out who I really was and it wasn't what everyone else was.So I think that as long as I set a good example then my dd will stay true to herself. As of right now I don't want to ever forbid her to buy magazines I don't want to read because I know whatever my parents didn't want me to do/have I wanted more.
post #3 of 10
Amymarie makes a good point in that forbidding something often only makes it more attractive. I think a better approach is to allow the magazines to be bought with the kid's own money (i.e. don't buy her a subscription!) but encourage her to check out other magazines frequently. When I was a teen, I regularly read YM, Mother Jones, Ms., Funny Times, and Consumer Reports. That gave me some balance.

Being mean to girls who don't look like the magazines is really a separate issue--it's related to the magazines, but they're not the only cause. I think you should talk with your stepdaughter about the meanness, preferably by asking why she does it or what she's thinking about the other girls, instead of lecturing about how it's wrong.
post #4 of 10

I saw a PBS "Frontline" show titled "The Merchants of Cool" about corporate influence, control actually, of teens. Teens have some billions of dollars of discretionary money - much more than previous generations. Big businesses want that money and pursue it with virgor. They, not me, refer to it as "guilt money." Money supplied to teens so as to not have to deal with them. Anyways the media is very, very sophisticated in marketing to teens - attempting to mold their minds, a process I find akin to child molestation. Be that as it may I also think the same media sells a "cool mom" image wherein cool moms are lenient and smiling.
post #5 of 10
I just want to say that I don't think you are doing anything to your teen. As unfortunate as it is, it is impossible to control every message children get from the world. Rather than trying to ban these messages altogether, since they may not always be avoidable, it is important to give our teens tools to look at the messages they get with a critical eye.

My parents tried to impart on me greater wisdom about the messages I got from magazines like YM (and, no, I don't think YM is *that* much better than any of the rest of them) or Seventeen, but I didn't always have the maturity to "get it." If I had had the tools to develop the critical-eye skills, I may have started looking with a critical eye sooner. Fortunately, I had a friend who was very mature and wise for her age and could take one of those magazines (which she may have even had a subscription to), and rip it apart, even when we were as young as 12. I would be reading something and thinking about how ugly I was or inadequate I was and scheming up my next beauty-session, and in would come my friend who would blast the messages away and make fun of the whole thing.

A kid with skills like that is golden, not only for herself, but for the sake of the other kids in her life. And I agree with others that magazines like Mother Jones and Ms. and Blue Jean do help to balance things out. I say invest in a gift subscription for her, and keep working on helping her build the critical-eye!
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your responses. I especially will try to use the one about asking SD WHY she is being mean/talking about people. That makes a lot of sense, I just have to remember to do it.

As for giving her the analytic ability to read the magazines more carefully, does anybody have any suggestions for that? The only thing I can think of, and I think this is something I did at one point for a class in college, was to look at all the advertisements in the magazines and then look at the articles and it is pretty easy to see that the articles all promote the things that are being sold.

Thanks again for your responses. She's with us over this weekend, so I'll be able to "practice" some of this.

post #7 of 10
For analytic ability: Set an example using an article about something totally unrelated. Just keep your eyes open until you find something in your everyday reading that is written with a "slant" and that she can understand, for example an article on "why recycling isn't worth it" that acts like monetary costs are the only kind of "worth it". Say, "This article makes me so mad!" and explain why, reading a few direct quotes and explaining how the author is twisting facts to win people over to a particular point of view. Do that every few weeks or months, whenever you come across a good example, and she'll pick up the skills.

Another kind of article to use as an example is one that makes claims but doesn't support them with evidence. By 13 they are working on that in school (writing a topic sentence and making the rest of the paragraph explain it) so you may boost her grades as well as her media savvy!
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I never thought of it like that. I do that all the time anyway, but mostly with DH when I see something really stupid in the newspaper. I'll see if I can find some stuff she might be interested in too.

Thanks a bunch.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to give you all an update, and brag just a little bit. Two weeks ago, I took my DSD to the mall to get a little makeup. It was her 13th b-day and I had promised her when she was about 9 and asking about makeup that when she turned 13 we would go get her some.

Anyway, we wandered the mall for a bit and she made two comments that were very encouraging to me that the magazines are not affecting her. (And that make me want to have her around LOTS when we have our own kids so that hopefully her attitdue rubs off on them). Anyway, the comments were

1) do you see those manequins. they are so anorexic looking. do the stores really think the clothes look better on them b/c they are so skinny. we even poked around the mannequins b/c after she made this comment I wanted to show her that they are so small they even have to pin the clothes together so they fit.

2) as we walked by the American Eagle store, she commented that she and her friend had figured out that the store uses "skinny" mirrors in the dressing rooms, to make you look skinnier so that you buy more clothes.

we had a good discussion about clothes/marketing/fashion etc.

thanks for letting me update and brag.

post #10 of 10
that is so way kewl Hokeymommy -
My 9 yo dd's friend down the street is very skinny and doesnt hardly eat and talks about being fat, I think she is like...NINE and it scares me, I dont know her mom very well -its so sad, its very hard today withthe media...
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