Parent, Teacher, Activist
My nine-year-old daughter told me that she had found a video from one of her favorite singers, Selena Gomez, that she thought I would like. She was right! I do like this video and the song that goes along with it. I asked her to share her thoughts on what was important about the message of this video for young people. Here’s what she had to say:
“This song says that you don’t have to be the prettiest person on the outside to be beautiful. It says that true beauty is on the inside. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and nobody can tell you not to be you. You should just be who you are and not what anyone else tells you to be. There’s no need for make-up or hair extensions to make you beautiful. I actually think that Selena Gomez looks better without all the make-up and stuff on.”
I love that at her age she is able to see this video and really connect with the point it’s trying to make. As children enter early adolescence, especially, they tend to start to feel insecure about their looks. Changing bodies and hormones can be difficult to deal with emotionally as well as physically. To be able to hear a celebrity like Selena Gomez say, “You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful you” means a lot to kids this age.
There is so much pressure on adolescents to focus on their physical appearance, from both media and peers who have adopted media’s messages. It’s natural to think about your looks when they’re changing so much and you’re beginning to be interested in romance. But exposure to sexualized media can really exaggerate the importance of physical appearance and sexual attractiveness in the minds of young adolescents. It begins to seem like the only thing that matters, and when you’re going through an awkward physical stage, it really hurts to feel like that’s what defines you.
Our message to tweens and teens needs to be that they have the opportunity to be someone who makes this world better, to be the beautiful person that they were made to be, no matter how they look. What’s beautiful about them doesn’t have to be their face and body, the most beautiful part of them can be who they are on the inside. As we work on helping the kids in our life understand that message, the power of sexualized media messages begins to lose its grip. Who says we don’t have some power over the way we respond to media?
Gender and Media Talk podcasts focus on hot topics and cutting edge research in the areas of gender and media.