The combined pressures of society, business and media on girls hammers home tough messages that favour body over mind. If I think about it too long I am horrified by the extent to which girl’s toys, programmes, popular culture role models and clothes have become so sexualised and body concious.
Biddulph says it has never been harder to be a girl. But how does he suggest parents deal with it? He suggests avoiding toys that suggest being a girl is just about looks and body shape and opting for practical rather than too girly clothes. Nurture talents and interests and confidence and provide role models outside of the mother daughter relationship.
I think this is sound advice, I think I see the pay off in a daughter who is confident, creative and hates dolls, pretty and pink. But I also see the vulnerabilities in her. They’ve set in via school, though wanting to fit in with others and through pop music, which is riddled with over sexualised role models. For me that the missing link is teaching girls to deconstruct the media and society’s messages. Again, from what I read about the book, Biddulph point that many girls lack an understanding of basic feminism, the knowledge that it isn’t their fault, but inequality at play.
This avoidance of stereotypes and encouragement of role models and interests reminds me in many ways of the advice in Raising Boys. I really look forward to reading Raising Girls.