So recently my three year old has decided that being a princess is the way to go. She has princess pants, princess dresses, princess skirts, and best of all, a princess dance. (None of these clothes actually have princesses on them. It’s just a matter of what she feels like wearing that day that makes it princess or not.)
It is fitting that I’m sitting by and watching the transformation of my regular old daughter into mini royalty as I am currently reading a book called “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture” by Peggy Orenstein.
I’m only shortly into the book but I’ve already read some fascinating information. Here are two studies by researchers that really caught my attention.
The First Study
Researchers took two groups of middle school age girls and showed them a series of commercials and then had them fill out a survey asking them what they wanted to be when they grow up.
One of the groups watched commercials of neutral things like phones and pens.
The second group of students watched the same commercials but this time they added two commercials that showed women in traditional gender roles. The commercials were for things like acne medicine or brownies with images of women smiling over the stove.
After the kids watched the commercials they had them fill out a questionnaire asking them about what careers they might be interested in.
The girls that watched the commercials that had the women doing things like fretting about their skin or cooking brownies showed less interest in science and math based careers.
Think about this outcome. What does t.v. and the media do to our children and specifically to our little girls and women of the future?
The Second Study
Researchers took two groups of college students and had them try on either a sweater or a bathing suit before taking a math test. These were all students that were good at math. They then looked at the scores to see if there were any differences that would not be due to chance.
This is what they found.
The young women who took the math test after trying on the bathing suit did worse than the group of women who tried on the sweater before taking the math test.
The boys did the same on the test regardless of whether they tried on a bathing suit or a sweater.
Body image. Self esteem. How we feel about ourselves.
It can affect how one performs on a math test.
If you’re a girl.
Good post, thank you. It is a reminder that we as moms need to pay attention to the influences on our children, and work to balance them. One way to do this for girls is through the book. “Body Drama: Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues, Real Answers” by Nancy Amanda Redd. It is a great book especially because it has photos of real women, not the media images designed to make all girls and women unhappy with the way they look so they will buy stuff. Our goal as women should never be to be thin. Our goal should be to eat healthy, nourishing food, and to be fit, not so we can attract a mate, but so we can think clearly and learn and dance and enjoy each day to the fullest…. whether wearing our princess clothes or not.
I’ll look into that book. Thanks for your comments and your thoughts. Body image, self esteem, mental health and school outcomes are all related. Crazy but true!