Monday, January 3, 2011

Your body may be a temple, but mine is an amusement park.

I have a perfect body but it's in the truck and beginning to smell.

My work is to help people love themselves and to have enough self esteem to not post such bumper stickers on their cars.  I get the humor, of course, but I feel compassion for the women who feel these statements strongly enough that they would actually post them on their cars for anyone/everyone to see.

I realize I probably come across sounding somewhat humorless about this stuff sometimes, but it's so darn insidious.  It's everywhere, and most of us don't even realize it.

An example is from the Nov 2010 edition of Working Mother.  It isn't about body image, but it is about stereotypes of women.  Under the guise of making learning cool, Microsoft Office 2010's ad shows a pretty young mom with her daughter who is studying at the table.  Here's what Melanie says, "I'm Melanie and my daughter can always use a little inspiration.  Especially when it comes to math.  So I chart her grades using mini graphs called Sparklines in new Excel 2010 so we can see how she's doing in school at a glance.  It's more motivating than putting a report card on the fridge."

What I get from this is that girls still don't do well at math - an age-old stereotype.  Plus, just think of the pressure - I can't imagine what I would have done if my mother had taken all of my grades and entered them into the computer, into a program that would chart my progress each and every time I brought something home.  Talk about a hovering parent!  Geez!  I was blessed by parents who expected me to do well in school and trusted me to do so.  I don't remember them ever asking me about my grades, though they were always happy to talk to me about them if I brought them up, and they were delighted by my report cards.  I think I would have felt disenfranchised and not in charge of my own schooling if they'd hovered like that.  It feels so controlling.  After 25 years of working with kids, one of the primary patterns I've seen is the hovering parent who takes control of virtually every aspect of her child's life.  Those kids are the least engaged in their own education, the most powerless, the most apathetic, and the hardest to teach.  They've learned early on not to get passionate about something they care about because their mothers have much clearer ideas of what they need to do, so it's only frustrating to care.  Ouch.

End of rant! Almost.  I began by talking about bumper stickers' messages and how insidious they can be.  It is important to be alert to the underlying messages being given by ads, etc., and to alert our children to them so they don't take them on unthinkingly.

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