Bring a Princess is not really a job….
On television today, our kids are bombarded with advertising, product placement and all sorts of mixed messages about body image, gender roles and early introduction to sexual themes in television programmes. Our kids would have to live in a cupboard not to be aware of the English Royal family, particularly the media’s obsession with Princess Kate and Prince William. This year, we have seen in the media too much emphasis on Kate Middleton’s appearance; what she is wearing, her figure, photos of her naked, all published with blatant disregard for the Royal couple’s privacy. We have to ask ourselves what sort of message is being portrayed to our children and how these images may impact on their personal development and what they want to be when they grow up.
For young girls, their ideas about gender roles, career aspirations and role models are shaped at an early age by the people around them and the things they see on tv and learn at school. Encouraging young girls to think realistically about what they want to be when they grow up and teaching the values of hard work and good self confidence is very important. So much so that the popular US TV show Sesame Street recently featured a segment on “Careers”. In the episode, the first female US supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained to Abby Cadabby that “Pretending to be a princess is fun but it is definitely not a career’. This video is definitely worth showing to your daughters and even your sons as it explains in simple terms the difference between dressing up and playing make believe and understanding the importance of a career.
You can view the YOUTUBE video here……
Focussing on Inner Beauty…..
Many of you would have seen the US television show Toddlers and Tiaras on Foxtel/Austar. For those who haven’t seen it, Toddlers & Tiaras showcases the competitive world of child pageants, as three families have their children judged on beauty, personality and costumes. Young girls, from the ages of 3 or 4 having spray tans, make up applied and eyebrows waxed/plucked.
If you think these things exist only in America, think again. In Australia in 2011, we had child beauty pageants in Perth and Melbourne. Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, who specialises in adolescent mental health would like to see such events banned altogether. In an article published by ABC News online Dr Gregg is quoted as saying “We have got to say no. All of the evidence says that this sort of early sexualisation of young people is associated with negative body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, low self esteem. It’s simply toxic to the young people of Australia.”
On the Generation Next Blog, author Collette Smart from Family Smart has written compelling arguments which refute the claims by Pageant parents that they are just like sport and that they can be good for self confidence. Smart argues that Pageants can push children into the adult world too early and place far too much emphasis on how girls look rather than what they have to offer. Her video on “Sexualisation and Objectification through Child Beauty Pageants” can be viewed here.
It is important as parents to keep an eye on our sons and daughters as they start developing their ideas about the world and what is important.. Playing dress ups and imaginary games is important for our kids but at the end of the day an emphasis on inner beauty, promoting self worth and confidence in their abilities should be encouraged above all.
Kasey Edwards, , 2012 “’Princess’ is not a Career” Dailylife.com.au
ABC News Online
Mary Gearin and Staff, July 31, 2011. “Child Beauty Pageant Sparks Melbourne Protests”, ABC News Online,
Collette Smart, 2012 “Child Beauty Pageants by Collette Smart”, http://www.generationnext.com.au/2012/11/child-beauty-pageants-by-collett-smart-21-min/
Collette Smart, 2012, The Right to Childhood Conference, http://www.thefamilyfactor.com/