When young boys and girls are surrounded by media, marketing, and the entertainment industry nearly 24/7, what messages do they learn about beauty and physical expectations held by society?
Let’s use this image actress Allison Williams created for Instagram as a discussion starter with kids.
This photo is a great tool in showing kids how the beauty and entertainment industries work. It reveals beauty expectations held for women, as well as the difference between reality and mirage.
Compare and contrast the two different versions we see of the same person, asking critical thinking questions like:
~ cover the left side of the photo and only show your child the right side, ask them to describe the lady. now show them the right side, ask what differences they notice, what changed on her face? did it change how they perceive her?
~ how long might it take to achieve the look on left and what tools go into providing that look? make a list of how many different cosmetics and brushes it would take. (I count at least 20)
~ is look on left an everyday look, or special event look created by professional makeup artist? should women need a professional’s help to be able to show up to an event? or everyday life?
~ it is perfectly fine to want to get fancied up for a special event. does this look on the left need to be everyday? more specifically (for older kiddos) do girls/women need to feel like they should look like the left side *every day*? how might that pressure feel to them?
~ what messages are given about what physical features are desirable for women? is this inclusive of all women (age, ethnicity, etc)? if it is not inclusive, how might that make women feel?
~ what messages do boys/men learn when women are expected to look like the image on the left? are those fair expectations for boys/men to be taught? how might that impact them?
~ do men have to go to these same lengths? do men have to spend the same amount of time and money to be considered ‘presentable’? if no, how much money and time do men save?
more specifically (for older kiddos), if no, why is it acceptable for men to show up with their normal faces or even looking scruffy compared to what female counterparts look like?
~ ask them what they would tell kids about the tricks played beauty myth the entertainment industry.
“It used to be that actresses and models wanted you to think they woke up looking completely flawless. But lately, a handful have been pulling back the curtain to show fans what really goes into creating their perfect look.” -Sara Bliss for Yahoo!
Melissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween”. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.