The Dumbing Down of Girls

Following on from my “Kids or Teens” blogpost last week about kids dressing in over sexualised ways, it was interesting to read the views of headmistress Helen Wright in the papers at the weekend.

She was warning that celebrity culture and social networking sites risk spawning a generation of dumb and shallow girls. She said, “Young women are under extreme pressure to shun intellectual interest and conform to images of women who lack depth and are obsessed with looks.”

While I don’t believe you can lay the blame for this at the door of social networking sites (back in my day they blamed teen magazines) I do think she’s right about celebrity culture.

picture credit: itv.com http://www.itv.com/channels/itv2/itv2shows/
theonlywayisessex/hotphotos/

Every time I read a paper I am faced with another wannabe WAG selling her story about an affair, or the girls from TOWIE making dumb look fun.

From the work I do with teenage girls and the letters I receive from them (I’m also an advice columnist for a teen magazine) – I can see that celebrity culture is encouraging ever younger girls to think surface image is everything.

“Why should I study?” said one 13 year old in an email to me, “I want to be famous so I don’t need exams for that.” Another 12 year old complains that she doesn’t look like Rihanna (who does?) and another about wanting a boob job at 15 years old.

I’d like to think they will grow out of it and that it’s a rite of passage but with self esteem and body image issues sky rocketing and girls as young at 7 years saying they feel under pressure to be “pretty and thin” I’m beginning to think it won’t.

The solution says Helen Wright is that we as mothers and parents need to be braver and complain louder about how women are portrayed. She’s right but I also think we also have to balance up what they will inevitably see and hear with talk about achievements and the importance of personality. It’s not about banning one for the other, but showing that there are plenty of benefits to not dumbing down.

What do you think?

Anita

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