In This Show:
A listener inspired episode.
Re-thinking Paris Hilton and Barbie
Children’s books with strong female characters
Deirdre Flint’s Boob Fairy
The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully
Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls by Emily Arnold McCully
America Is her Name by Luis J. Rodriguez
Getting in the Game by Dawn Fitzgerald
From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls’ Clothing in America by Leslie Sills
Deirdre Flint’s Boob Fairy
Special Thank You:
To Charles from Mostly News and Desperate Husbands Podcast for the Station ID
To Karen for inspiring this show!
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Transcript for Body Image and the Media
More and more, I have been able to draw from your comments and questions to build or think about themes for CLIP. This certainly is the case for today’s show so I want to thank Karen for sending the e-mail that resulted in this episode.
Charles from Mostly News and Desperate Husbands : Station ID
Body Image and the Media
In her e-mail Karen wrote, “I just finished listening to Clip 7 and it really hit home with me”. Clip 7 focused on the media and the construction of stereotypes. She then referred to a nine year old female relative who she described as obsessed with images such as Paris Hilton, and so forth, and their body sizes, they way they dress etc. She continued, “The television shows she watches and the websites she visits, all contain skinny blond girls with big breasts, and wearing skimpy clothes and make up, making out with cute boys…. The scary thing is, these shows and sites are marketed and meant for girls her age! This disturbs me. How can I help her to foster self esteem and realize, that MOST girls/women do not look like this, nor will they ever, without crossing into territory that her parents should really be dealing with? I don’t want to overstep my bounds, but I am concerned about all of this media bombardment. She is already concerned about breast size etc., Her parents don’t seem to want to deal with this and when I’ve mentioned it to them, they just laugh and roll their eyes and think she’s a typical “girlie girl”.
In response I wrote,
I know what you mean about some young girls’ obsession with celebrities like Paris Hilton etc. It’s another form of hero worship. It’s also a demonstration of ‘fandom’ a sub-cultural social network of fans interested in the same celebrity for instance.
I continud, There are some books out there. I’m thinking here of books like the following which focus on strong female characters.
McCully, Emily Arnold. The Bobbin Girl. New York: Dial, 1996.
McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls. New York: Putnam, 2000.
Rodriguez, Luis J. America Is her Name. Ilus. By Carlos Vasquez. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone, 1996.
Fitzgerald, Dawn. Getting in the Game. Roaring Brook Press, 2005.
Sills, Leslie. From Rags to Riches: A History of Girls’ Clothing in America . Holiday House, 2005.
This last book is a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of girls’ clothing in America , this overview shows how clothing is closely tied to cultural expectations and gender roles.
Probably the most effective way to offer your nine-year-old relative an alternate perspective is by doing what Sarah suggests in show 7 which is to capitalize on moments when she may say or do something that shows she is buying into the dominant stereotypes of girl/femaleness. And you are right the media bombardment is primarily aimed at teaching young girls to be particular kinds of consumers and to buy into particular ways of doing things and particular ways of being. Giving young girls tools for resisting this dominant stuff will help them to become much more informed consumers and decision makers in life. Some questions/ statements that you could slip into your conversations with her include,
-do you know any girls who look like that at your school/ in your neighborhood/ in your family etc.?
-what do you think these girls are trying to do when they dress like that, what difference does it make, to whom?
-who do you think benefits from selling those kinds of clothes /shoes/ etc.
-what advantage does dressing like Paris Hilton offer?
-what difference would this make for you?
You could also then point to famous and popular girls/women who achieve hero status without necessarily taking on the ‘Barbie Paris Hilton’ image, such as female Olympians/athletes and people in the community.
Questions and experiences like these could bring some awareness that the ‘Barbie look’ is only one ‘look’ that there are many other ways of being and doing. It also may help get at the underlying issue that leads young girls to want to be like Paris or Hilary duff or some other celebrity.
Is it about being popular? with whom? for what reason? to whom does it matter and why? what are some other ways to be popular without having to buy into the ‘Barbie Paris’ image? Is it about fear? Of what? Rejection? From whom?
Hopefully these suggestions will give you a place to start…
Next up a tune by one of my favorite independent artists, Deirdre Flint. When I decided to put together the previous episode this song immediately came to mind. I hope you enjoy…The Boob Fairy. I’ll catch you next time.
Boob Fairy Song
Before I go I want to say thank you to Chris Wigglesworth, from Winnipeg, Dave of Two Boobs and a Baby, Charles of mostly news and desperate husbands, I’m so glad to have connected with you Charles! Brec Cooke an amazing colleague and great support at AU, Pat Johnson, Andrea of Just One More Book, and Carol Felderman, for contributing to the show, participating in the show, commenting on the show , contacting me regarding the show or pinning my Frapr map.