This likely isn’t news to you, but basically, you probably learnt your body hatred issues from your mother and unless you’re doing a lot of work on re-wiring yourself as an adult you’re passing that self-hatred on to your daughters. There is more to it, of course, because women don’t self-objectify for the hell of it, we’re all living in this same damaging culture of misogyny that we’re trying to guard our children against and you’re not all that more immune to it as an adult. The article, “Sexy like mom” in Salon by Tracy Clark-Flory is a great argument for teaching your children about the critical consumption of media.. the problem is, who will teach us? Feminism. (I used to write a lot more about this stuff and you can find it in my archives under ‘Bratz hatred’, for example – here, here, here, here and here).
I am very cautious about articles that examine the role of mothers in the sexualisation of little girls because they tend to emphasize the spectacular failings of particular mothers – usually in a classist way – while ignoring the broader role of media, commerce and privilege, but this piece by Clark-Flory is not doing that and in a way it’s quite optimistic.
Well, the researchers speculate, “high media consumption may provide young girls a predisposition towards early sexualization which is only realized for those whose mothers display reinforcing self-objectifying attitudes and behaviors. Alternatively, girls of highly self-objectifying mothers may model their mother’s self-objectified attitudes and behavior, and effectively begin to self-sexualize and self-objectify in the presence of myriad reinforcing images afforded by high media consumption.”..
.. Focusing on moms as the study does is problematic, though, says Sharon Lamb, the author of “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes.” “It sort of puts mothers as the answers and to blame,” she says…
.. Lamb says the message of her book is that “the parents need to get in there and provide a counter-discourse.” She explains, “You can’t turn off media; it’s all around them in every way, but it’s nice to know that your relationship makes a difference.” None of which is to negate efforts to change the media: It shouldn’t be one or the other but both, Lamb argues.