Friday, June 27, 2008

How to Counter Harmful Tween & Teen Magazines - Part One

University of Minnesota research finds that teen girls "who frequently read magazine articles about dieting were more likely five years later [emphasis added] to practice extreme weight-loss measures ... than girls who never read such articles."

That's terrifying for parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, teachers and youth workers because we know most girls will read those magazines at some point. What to do? Here's Part One of how you can counter their harmful influence.
  • If she's not a tween yet, decide ahead of time at what age you will allow her to read which magazines.
  • Try to avoid censorship, which makes the magazines “forbidden fruit” she reads in secret—where you can’t discuss them with her.
  • Read her magazines yourself (yes, this is excruciatingly painful to do, but it's crucial) so you can converse casually (not lecture her!) about them.
  • Look critically at the magazines you read (both the articles and the ads). Do they objectify females or reduce them to body parts? How would you feel if it was your daughter in those photographs/stories?
  • Do your magazines make you judge your body? Do they make you crave certain clothes, cars, products, etc? Look for the parallels in her magazines.
  • Ask your daughter to identify her favorite article and ad in each issue. Listen for her underlying emotional need and think about other ways you can help her meet that need. Is she concerned about her body? Is she worried about fitting in or getting male attention?
  • Provide positive attention for ALL of who she is and she’ll have less desire for “appearance-only” attention from others.

To be continued tomorrow with Part Two ....

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