“Do you want your daughter to grow up to be a strong, independent woman filled with limitless potential? Or to aspire to grace the cover of a magazine in her underwear?”, Rebecca Hagelin of the Washington Times asks parents a question that would seemingly have a universal answer: yes to the strong women, no to the sex symbol.  While most parents would probably say that they would rather their daughter grow up to be a successful, confident woman, many overlook the effort of actually instilling values to encourage these outcomes.
If parents aren’t paying attention, then even holidays, like Halloween just last week, can turn into defining moments about a girl’s body image and self-worth. The modern costume industry makes it nearly impossible for girls to find costumes that are building positive values. Mother/daughter fashion ideals are often challenging to mesh together; what parents views as “scandalous,” a teenage girl and her friends see as “fun.” It is important for a girl to feel beautiful, learn confidence, and be proud of what she is presenting to the world.  It is important for a parent to teach a child how that image or perspective can have positive or negative aspects.
Today’s technology and multimedia have created cultural norms, like numbness to shock, that make it that much more challenging to separate positive icons from negative ones.  Lady Gaga or Oprah are often listed as role models to young American girls, because they embody iconic cultural status. They are vastly different when it comes to body image or exposure, but they are surprisingly similar when it comes to strength and success.  Oprah has faced scrutiny over the years for her weight, but owns her success and generosity despite shallow criticisms. Lady Gaga’s alternative approach may not be considered appropriate for all ages, but her focus on inner beauty and being comfortable with oneself is an inspiring message.
Girls need to learn that beauty and the body can be inspiring and transformative without needing to be degrading or even important. A woman can feel more confident in make-up, but still realize that she is working on building her character, not her beauty. A woman can wear something sexy, but still be strong in her mind and her independence. A girl, however, is still learning this balance in society. Therefore, it is vital to nurture and stabilize a strong moral foundation to deter against an onslaught of glamorization of the “sex, drugs, & rock’n’roll” culture.
“Clothing – and costume – choices won’t decide a child’s future. But the underlying messages they embrace definitely will.”