JK Rowling's recent quote regarding concern for her daughters, has stirred a cauldron of response from parents everywhere:
“I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'. And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”Indeed, it will be a task for JK Rowling to shield her daughters from the "skinny-obsessed world," by her mere proximity to limelight. But it's not an impossible task. She will need a determined commitment. World views aren't going to change overnight.
It is our children's birthright to love this world, feel its pulse with soft fingertips, and fearlessly move across its peaks, valleys and floors. Perfect parents, we are not, but that doesn't mean we cannot give our kids a sparring chance for a healthy start.
● Play outside everyday! Even in the snow, rain and mudpuddles.
● DO NOT keep or bring fashion magazines or tabloids in the house.
● Bring your own children's books from home to waiting rooms.
● Expose them to images of the world you want them to see. Follow up with discussion. Get them to talk about it... or not! Let them be the guides on this one.
● Avoid grocers with media soaked check-out stands. (Media-free check-out: Costco, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers.)
● GO prepared to distract you children when you find yourselves standing in front of fashion magazines, tabloids, etc.
● As possible, keep the dialog at home non-judgemental. You are your children's first mirror.
● Eliminate or limit television viewing for young children. If you must, consider DVDs instead, or children's shows on PBS.
● This is a tough one, but very important. Limit YOUR usage of hand-held smart devices and computers in their presence. A-hum, the mirror? It may be oh-so-cute to see a baby pretending to use a cell phone, but quite the opposite when a six-year-old demands to have one of her own.
● Seek out magazines with healthy self esteem: New Moon Girls: 8-10 year girls, Lotta: 5-10 years, Cricket, Lady Bug, Highlights, Support sites like: Toward the Stars, A Mighty Girl .
● Recite a poem, prayer or quote before meals embracing all the children in the world.
● Consider NOT opening up the dialog about self image too early. No need to bring attention to image issues, negative OR positive, when your child is too young.
● Tell tall tale stories about them... as mighty characters. Children love being amongst daring-do.