And celebrate their other qualities instead. Like their kindness, courage, tenacity, empathy, sense of justice, compassion, generosity, ability to love and be loved.
They may in fact be damn ugly physically and what’s wrong with that? Who’s to say what is beautiful? We are doing our children a grave disservice when our affirmations focus on their external appearance. Of course they’re beautiful to us, because we love them. But we don’t love them because they’re beautiful. But do they know that?
What do they hear, what do they learn, when with the best intentions we crow and brag about our ‘beautiful’ daughters, on Facebook, on Twitter and to our friends?
I recently heard Dr Dafna Lemish talk about Girl Power, and I have to agree that Girl Power has empowered our daughters in two ways only: sexual power and consumer power. So after all this time, after all that the women’s movement has tried to do, daughters and mothers alike still unwittingly define and value themselves and each other according to whether they’re attractive, can pull, and stick their tits out. And as consumers, we’ve grown demanding – ‘make it in pink and we’ll buy it’. ‘Born to Shop’? Oh please. No wonder women are still not taken seriously.
The Children’s Media Foundation has an event this coming Wednesday to discuss role models, representation and gender skew. If you can go to it, do. And let’s celebrate and affirm our daughters and our sons as wonderful human beings who can change the world because of who they are, not what they look like.
…was this submission, on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts, to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children. The APPG for Children is conducting a year long investigation around the question “Are Children Getting What They Want?”. Jocelyn Stevenson and I wrote this paper answering the question from a children’s media and arts perspective.
The results of the inquiry will be published later in the spring and you can read the whole of our report on the Children’s Media Foundation website. But to briefly summarise… Are children getting what they ‘want’ in terms of arts and media?
With little more than 1% of public funding for the arts directed at the children’s audience, despite the under-18s comprising 15% of the UK population, with fewer and fewer courses training specialist arts teachers, with current Education policy devaluing art, with libraries closing, the answer is NO. In terms of media, despite so many hours of dedicated children’s viewing, only 1% is brand spanking new UK content. And of that 1% very little editorial diversity or opportunity to reflect the rich variety of childhood experience. So no: children are not getting the opportunities they want, need or deserve to participate fully in cultural and artistic life.
Of course we say it a lot more eloquently than that in the paper and quote Nelson Mandela and Horton the Elephant. Which of course fills me with great pleasure and hope that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children will not only continue to support our campaigns, but increase the pressure for change.