I love a bit of controversy, so when I read an article, 'liked' it on facebook with a bit of a comment, and had a ton of people commenting on it also - agreeing or disagreeing on various parts of the article - I got a little excited.
The article was called 'How to Talk to Little Girls', by Lisa Bloom from the Huffington Post. It was about talking to little girls, and trying to steer clear of telling them how cute or pretty they are in favor of more intellectual things like asking what they're reading and if they like books, etc. as well as telling them what you do and asking their opinion on some sort of 'grown up-ish' things such as 'What bothers you about the world?' and 'If you had a magic wand, what would you fix?'.
I thought it was great, and added a comment about another article I had read about the early sexualization of girls in our society today and how the 'Disney Princesses' helps to pave the way for this process.
What? Not the Disney Princesses - but I love the Disney Princesses!!!
Not to blame the Princesses, but with these toys there is a 'prescribed method' of play. Princess is pretty. Princess attracts the Prince. The article suggested this subtle theme encouraged girls to start thinking about appearance - particularly in reference to attracting boys - at an early age.
Anyway, there were comments from moms who played with Barbies and watched Disney Princess movies, and didn't think there was any connection between that and low self-esteem.
There were also comments about the dangers of NOT complimenting your daughter's appearance, and how that might damage their self-esteem also.
I wish there was a clear answer to this, because I don't think anyone would deny that little girls in our society are sexualized WAY to young. I think we also know that girls focus on their appearance too much and too early, and that eating disorders are rampant. I think this is probably not a really new problem, but I think something has changed in recently that has made this situation worse. Personally, I do believe the media is partly to blame (another part being the parents who allow their children to watch anything and everything in the media). I was recently in the vicinity of a nine year old watching music videos on you tube. I was horrified at the message that was being directed at girls her age. Some of the songs were obviously about sex, and one even mentioned something about a 'manage et troi' (I'm not French, so you'll have to forgive me if that was spelled wrong.
Anyway, there must be some way to combat these messages and raise strong and self-confident young women. We need more of them in this world.