In her book, Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher, Ph.D. writes, “Girls today are much more oppressed. They are coming of age in a more dangerous, sexualized, and media-saturated culture. They face incredible pressures to be beautiful and sophisticated.” Pipher goes on to say that, “America today limits girls’ development, truncates their wholeness, and leaves many of them traumatized.”
Much of the media, including popular music, has launched a full-scale war on our girls, although I’m sure they don’t view it as such. To the industry, it’s just good business. As a father with a daughter, my heart breaks for the culture in which she has grown up. I have spent much of my daughter’s life building her up, honoring her as God’s precious masterpiece, and treating her like a princess. The problem is, I’m outgunned! The multi-billion dollar entertainment industry has spent far more resources, time, and energy in tearing her down, objectifying her, and referring to her as garbage. Today, our girls are seen as sexual, disposable objects. From magazines and billboards to commercials, movies, and songs, women’s bodies are being exploited and sexualized. They are marketed to sell toothpaste, hamburgers, and everything in between.
The trends are alarming. In 2011, Abercrombie and Fitch introduced “push up bras” for 12 year olds. One study sites that 80% of 4th grade girls have been on a diet and one of the most popular YouTube videos of the year featured 8-9 year olds dancing suggestively to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
Pictured above is a typical magazine cover that is displayed at every grocery store checkout stand. Featured here is Disney teen star Selena Gomez on the cover. Notice the headlines and messages all around her. What messages are our little girls getting every day?
Pipher continues, “Something new is happening. Adolescence has always been hard, but it’s harder now because of cultural changes in the last decade.”
A Dad’s Role
You have a huge role in this battle. Yours is a critical voice to balance out all the noise. Here are two things you can do on a regular basis.
Interpret Media Messages: Don’t let these inappropriate messages go unchallenged. Sit with your daughter and process what is really going on and the false message that is being sold.
Talk about real worth: Let your daughter know who assigns her value and where it comes from. Ie. NOT the 5,000 media images a day she will take in, but rather the God who made her and the Dad who cherishes her.
We are in a battle Men. Don’t relax. Your daughter needs you to be fully engaged to help her navigate this tumultuous time in her life.
Chapter 3 of our book book Prized Possession goes into much more detail on this challenging topic.