Monday, September 21, 2009

Mirror, mirror on the wall

I have something I need to say.

I am concerned about some of the websites that are designed for young girls, specifically targeted at the age group of 7-17. Many, if not all of them seem to focus heavily on materialism and what I call the "Paris Hilton life style". These websites although designed with good intent to boost self esteem and stir up creativity, appear to also stimulate a sense of discontent. I say this because I have watched my 8 yr old on these sites. Generally I believed them to be cute and entertaining. My daughter received much joy from creating new hairstyles, designing fashionable outfits, and being a makeup artist. She really is a Fashionista in the making.

I never really thought too much into her time spent on these sites. I mean, I always checked to be sure they were sites suitable for children of course. And to be frank, I enjoyed the free time that it gave me when she was engrossed in "designing". However, it was not until recently that I began to think twice about what was really going on. How she was being affected on an emotional level.

Recently, my daughter came to me and asked if she could become a superstar. I did not know what she was talking about. I told her; "you're already a superstar honey." Her emphatic reply was that she wanted to be a REAL superstar and she needed my credit card to do it. Hold up! What? My credit card? OK, now she has my attention. She eventually was able to show me what she was talking about. On this site there is a lot of basic fashion pages, equiped for a paper doll type avatar that each girl can call her own. However, every girl can move on to superstar status if they pay $5.95 per month. "huh?" I questioned what was this fee for? Indya, went on to tell me that the fee will enable her to have bigger and better things. A nicer apartment, furniture, expensive clothes, a nice car etc. etc. As she was relaying this information to me, she appeared to be a little bit too desperate for my liking. Am I hearing this right? This is supposed to be child's play, right?

From my very core I was disturbed. What kind of message is this really sending to young girls? I asked a friend about my feelings and she understood my thoughts. I have always tried to help my daughter create a strong sense of self. And believe me she does have a strong sense for an 8 year old. But I do not care for the idea that she could possibly gauge her worth by the material things she possessed ( virtual or not). Too many girls today are growing up with the idea that more is better and bling is bliss. Focusing on the external and not enough time spent on developing the internal. Early on girls are forming cliques in schools based on status (believe me, I've seen it even in 1st grade), the mean girl mentality is evident. Remembering my days as a young girl/young adult with low self esteem, it just is not a path that I want to see my child going down. She needs to feel, know and believe that regardless of what she has, or what group she fits in with, she is still a superstar at all times. In real life, material things come and go. They can only carry a person to a point. However, strong character and inner beauty will never stop pushing a person ahead. Finding pleasure and happiness in the simple things that make life truly enjoyable and meaningful is priceless. Worth more than silver and gold. That is the area that I want her focus on.

I began thinking that maybe I'm taking this a little too serious. After all she is just a little girl having fun on a website that I allowed her to be on. But still I felt uneasy. So I pondered on that, but decided that a mother can't ever be too sure. sometimes the very simple signs are the very things we tend to take for granted and often can be what will snowball into something bigger later on. How many times has it been said "if I knew back then what I know now, I never would have allowed...". Yeah, I know I can't predict the future of my daughter, nor shield her from all the emotional curves she will encounter. However, what I do know is that I can be mindful of the example I set and the role that I play. Keeping an eye on how I feed into behavior patterns.

There for I decided I would not purchase the superstar status for her. For me, it just felt like going too far. I believe I would be contributing in some way to some unhealthy ideas. I recognize that perhaps I will even need to reevaluate some of the sites that she visits and set some new guidelines for her. None of which is limited to just the websites, but television, and music videos too. This will cause some upset, but this mom has got to do what she has to do. If my daughter wants to continue to play virtual dress up, makeup artist, etc. she will still have the freedom to do so. However it will have to be done within what I deem to be healthier parameter's.

With the increase of technology and media our children are being exposed to more and more ideas and values that are not our own. Those of which creep up into our lives oh so subtle. Which means we have to be that much more aggressive or quick to correct, encourage and refine the fibers that create a strong foundation. I don't know all the answers, but what I do know is that I want to build something more substantial within my little girl so that she can soar and be the woman that I know she can be. And I definitely don't think that buying her way to SUPER STARDOM is going help her to do that. I'm just saying...


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  2. I definitely understand your viewpoint. I have a couple of girls and although they are just toddlers now, I am all ready monitoring what they get exposure to. I am not the most girly girl but I don't mind if my daughters want to paint nails and play dressup,etc. But it can go a little too far when pure materialism begins to be introduced. I believe as a mom, you have recognized this and done the right thing.