Our kids (and us!) are bombarded with images of perceived perfection at every turn. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the latest social media trend is is teeming with all of our best curated photos and videos. And advertisements selling this perfection are flooding our accounts. Whether we are consciously thinking about it or not, these images are getting into all of our psyches. And let's be honest, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. But, when we compare ourselves to the photoshopped, faux extended, cosmetically enhanced and computer generated images, we start to perceive a false sense of reality. And that gets into our heads and can start effecting our mental health and how we see ourselves. That Comparison Monster is a bitch.
As parents, we need to make our kids aware of this so they can be critical of the media more and their bodies less.
And, let’s be clear that this conversation isn’t just about women. Our young men see
the same images in the media as our young women do. The insane expectations
that each gender has for the other can be overwhelming and unobtainable. If most of the images we see of men are “bumbling fun idiot,” “hyper masculine ragey body builder” or “power shark” then that is what young women will expect out of our young men. If most of the images we see of women are “sex kitten,” “dumb and pretty,” or “bitch” then that is what young men will expect out of our young women.
These messages really keep both men and women in a box and are making it hard
for anyone to reach their full potential.
We also need to pay attention to how we speak about ourselves to set a better example for them. Why? Well, if you make a mistake in your day and call yourself a moron, they might start to think that if they make errors that they're not bright or that they need to be perfect all of the time. If you constantly talk about your weight, thick thighs or love handles then they will start hyper criticizing their own bodies, too.
As women, we tend to criticize ourselves too much over our outer appearance.
We compare ourselves to something computer generated too often, and our young
ones are seeing it and doing the same. Let’s change the conversation to how to be
good people. How to be our best selves. How to embrace our talents and strengths
and creativity to grow. How to treat ourselves and those around us well.
Let’s start changing the conversation. In order to change the conversation, we need to
have the conversation. Here are some tips:
1. Watch the Dove Evolution Video with your kids. (It's a great video that demonstrates photoshopping in advertising.) Talk about what you see and why it's important for them to know how this type of media works. Remind them that humans come in all sizes and shapes and it's your actions in the world that make you beautiful.
2. Make sure you are on all of your kids social accounts. If your kid has a social media account on anything (Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc...) then you should, too. Interact with them on their platforms, follow them, check out what they're following. I know, this is one more thing to do and learn. But, these are YOUR KIDS. Be in the know. And if you don't know how? Google it. Take the time to learn. Talk about the things you see on these platforms with your kids. Help them navigate this digital world we live in. And when it comes to your own social media, don't just post your greatest highlights, but show them the stuff you are WORKING on that isn't perfect but is worthy of an embrace.
3. Talk to your kids about what real beauty is. Brainstorm with them the positive attributes about the people they know and love. Real people that they interact with in their own lives. Discuss the beauty that each one of these people possesses by their ACTIONS, not because of how they look or what they wear.
4. Remind your kids that making mistakes is human and okay. Teach them that they should be striving for progress, not perfection. Help them make a list of things they do well. (And make one for yourself, too. This isn't always easy, but worth it. Plus, it will set a good example of positive self talk.) Hang up positive affirmations where they will see them in the house. Try my FREE Guided Journal HERE.
5. Start or sponsor a chapter of the Lotus Project in your community, middle/high school or church group. I created this program in 2011 because I was tired of not having time for conversations about self esteem, personal value, setting boundaries, whole health, mental health, goal-setting, etc. in my history classroom. I've created an 8 session curriculum that is ready to go, so you don't have to put the time into creating to connect. You can just CONNECT with the teens in your life. More info. on each session HERE and purchase HERE. This package and curriculum include a private planning and coaching session with me, too! For $50 off of the Lotus Project, please click here. (This is the ONLY time this has had a COUPON CODE! Act NOW!)
LP Inspire, LLC was founded to encourage all people to grow into their best selves. I created the Lotus Project for teens and their mentors in 2011 and have been building positive relationships through it ever since.