The Hurtful Messages Our Daughters Can’t Avoid
August 26, 2015 42 Comments
My daughter grew 1 ½ inches in four months. She is 11 years old and I can’t carry her around in a Baby Bjorn anymore.
(I haven’t tried in a while, though sometimes I yearn for those days.)
Before school starts this week, we went through all of her clothes to find out what she could wear for the fall. It was absolutely hilarious watching her attempt to pull on pants. She fell down, got stuck a couple of times, and I thought I was going to have to get out a pair of scissors to free her.
We ended up with ZERO pairs of pants and two long-sleeved shirts that still fit. Ha! Since I can’t send her to school in her underwear, we embarked on the “Back to School” ritual shopping trip. We began by stopping at Goodwill. I have a “you can buy anything you want” from Goodwill policy as I want to encourage reuse, saving money, and the terrific work that Goodwill does.
Then (after finding a new pair of pants for $2 - whoopee!), we went to her favorite store, Old Navy. Here things went a bit down hill.
The jeans are called “Skinny”, which is a style of pants that sticks the fabric to your legs. As a subset of Skinny, you have:
- Super Skinny
- Skinny Slim
- Skinny Regular
- Skinny Plus
Which one do you want to be?
My daughter grabbed the Super Skinny and told me that these were her jeans. Then, she tried them on and they didn’t fit. The pouting and tears began.
Here I am, an advocate (dare I say, activist!) for a reasonable female body image, and MY daughter wants to be “Super Skinny”. She certainly didn’t get that idea from me.
The marketing folks at Old Navy had ensured with their terminology (think Super Hero) that my daughter felt inadequate when she ended up in Skinny Slim as a result of GROWING.
I found myself wanting to punch the cashier but I refrained from my tirade until I was at home. Why do all the marketing messages we receive (especially as women) tell us how deficient we are?
Wrinkles, hair color, eye lashes, leg hair, cellulite, muffin tops, crow’s feet, thin lips, chicken neck, bat wings, and ugly underarms (what?) - how many products do we need to solve all of these ridiculous manufactured image problems?
Almost all the stuff on the market is to transform the look of a woman into a teenager and they don’t work because we AGE - a perfectly normal and unavoidable phenomenon as we all know.
Now my 11 year old daughter is wondering how she can fit into “Super Skinny” and I am trying to convince her it is all a marketing ploy that she will be facing for her entire life.
Man, it makes me angry. I realize that this post sounds like a Mama Bear trying to protect her Baby Bear from being bullied but I can’t help it.
The marketing message that “skinny” is preferable sends many down a path to disordered eating and eating disorders as well as self-esteem issues, pain, and emotional trauma that is so unnecessary.
I have a primordial desire to protect my children from this crap.
How do you talk to your daughter about body image?