Tag Archives: parenting

Grow Your Voice To New Decibels

BeBoldIt’s time to be bolder, older. The complex navigation of the “in between stage” is something we all go through, some of you might be there now, and others have come out on the other end, thriving.

There’s this new phenomenon, OK not new just now being talked about (finally). It is the “losing their voice” phenomenon that is muting girls in the adolescent phase through to adulthood as they become more astute to the culture and societal, albeit ridiculous, standards infiltrating their psyche.

Does this really happen? Absolutely, I’ve been a witness to it time and time again through friends and young girls I interact with at the dance studio. Does it have to happen? No way! And here’s why…

When I was young, I was the girl that hid behind my mother’s legs in elevators, never uttering a peep until I got into the house or car with my family—my “safe” space, while other kids were running around giving their unfiltered opinion of the world around them. Today, I’m a more confident woman, who is bold and isn’t afraid of voicing my opinion, something that has developed over time and really escalating in the last few years, post-college. Who do I have to thank for that?
The real world: It’s complete with an all-too-often male-dominated (we’re working on that!), career driven environment forcing me to be ballsy and step out of my comfort zone.
My mother and other positive female role models and entrepreneurs in my life: They encourage me to be vocal, go after what I want (no matter how big the dream) and never bat an eye at the haters (because haters gon’ hate..hate..hate..)

How can you encourage those girls and women currently idle in this “in between”? Well, Fast Company published a well-articulated article to encourage women to not be comfortable fitting in the feminine and often “passive” role, but to instead be confident, fearless and wildly obsessed with their lives and own their opinions!

Here’s my commentary on Fast Company’s list on how to pump up the girls and women in your life (p.s. you’re included in this!):
1. Encouraging their interests
If it’s boxing, snowboarding, dancing, or putting together vision boards lift them up.  Step into their world, be curious and ask questions, who knows you may learn something yourself. Never ever, shrug it off or tear them down for being into something that’s not your mug o’ joy.

2. Call out and monitor the media, which includes user generated social media (Instagram, I’m looking at you) and be avid in smashing the stereotypes into smithereens through discussions 😉

3. Watch your own talk
OK, THIS IS THE HARDEST. If I’m having a downtrodden day, we all have them, and overall feel “bleh” about my body, I try to spin it around and find something positive about myself, rather than intoxicating my social feeds both online and IRL with my “woe is me” messages, that inadvertently girls and women are reading and listening to which leads to the appearance dictating self-worth in their subconscious, similarly to those Photoshopped teen magazines that show the unrealistic beauty standards. This is a great practice for all you mothers and sisters out there who are constantly around your favorite girl!

4. Create a safe space for them to express themselves
For me, growing up, my expression was in the dance studio, which looking back is strange because I think dance has a stigma of being body obsessed.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in a studio that believes dance is for everyone (shape, size, color—all are welcome!)

5. Bring awareness to the “loss of voice” phenomenon!
Sometimes talking it out (or writing it out) and helping others see that this does happen at their age—but it doesn’t have to—if you’re surrounded by the right people with the right uplifting messages you will forever build your voice to new decibels.



Reinventing the Princess

A few weeks ago I heard about a new movement to reinvent the ‘Princess’ that we’ve become accustomed to little girls in our lives idolizing or dressing up as to collect treats during Halloween. You know the princesses I’m talking about, starts with “Diz” ends in “knee.” (say it out loud, friends).

Guardian Princess Alliance (GPA) has created a story book series that is on a quest to smash the Disney stereotypes into smithereens by characterizing new and culturally diverse princesses with a multitude of talents, knowledge, and special powers while incorporating different traditions native to countries around the world.

With the book series, GPA aims to transform the cultural meaning of princess into a positive role model who takes actions to help protect living beings and preserve the planet for future generations while moving the focus of the stories of each princess away from external beauty.

Though I have not read a story quite yet, (I hope to get a copy soon!) I have faith in this cause because it’s an equal mixture of education & interest (and uber talented illustrators!)

The books aim to teach girls that it’s not just about how a princess looks that makes her successful and a leader. Instead, this stereotype gets flipped on its noggin’ and allows these princesses to take ownership and leadership roles in their communities by being a guardian of “the land”, “the sea”, “animals”, “healing forests,” etc. all the while looking different (for once). Having the princesses represent different cultures is probably my favorite part of this story series because it gives the characters depth and creates an atmosphere that no matter what culture/country a girl comes from she too can be a leader, a princess.

  • Princess = hot topic

Now, originally I wasn’t a fan of using “princess” at all to describe this new movement, but you have to think of marketing and what’s not only going to get the parent’s attention but also the girls to read up! So, I get it.

  • Environment = sizzling topic

With the ozone layer depleting, talks of global warming, animals going extinct and forestry being something of the past, a huge concern for parents (I haven’t checked with little girls) is ‘will there be something for my child or grandchild etc. to enjoy?’

  • Girl Power = balmy topic

This is a movement, creating these spaces whether its through literary works, campaigns, blogs like these, and organizations the topic of preparing girls to become the young and confident women of the future is ongoing and ever present in the mainstream media.

Now, here’s my ask! You know there’s always is one! (or 5) I encourage you to donate to the Indiegogo campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-guardian-princesses), which is set to close Nov 1!
No doll hairs ($$) to spare? It’s cool, leave a comment below answering the question, “If you could be a guardian princess of anything ever, what would it be?” If you leave a comment I may have a surprise for you! Anddddd I know people heart surprises! (it’s good, reallllly good, promise!)

Moral Panic Mode: Marketers


In television commercials, marketers put their best skills to use: making sure the kids rule.   The characters, whether animated or not, are often young, thus making them really relatable to the target consumer, kids. Duh. Because no kid wants a parent telling them what to do, amiright?

Though I hate to admit it, marketers are smart because they realize that children are the primary consumers because of their direct buying power or the “I want it now forever always” and indirect buying power through their parents or “Please can I have it now forever always.”  Kids are drowning in brands; the most popular are toys, cereal, fast food, candies or sugary snacks.  The marketers’ task is to create a commercial that establishes an audience, sells a product and embeds values to children in hopes of creating a “cradle to grave” brand loyalty (Jennings, 2007). And somewhere in between the cradle and the grave we become zombies who succumb to this very formulaic (and successful) approach to marketing.

Marketing 101:  Baby Whispering 101: Marketers use different production techniques when selling products, knowing full well children cannot decipher between reality and fantasy until about the age of six (Chandler and Griffiths, 2000). However, different tactics are used to appeal to boys and girls and usually marketers bring in back up in the form of psychologists to determine how young boys and girls brains function. The most obvious tactic: voiceover.  Eighty percent are male because they appeal to both genders when used in a mixed target audience (Chandler and Griffiths, 2000). Therefore female voiceovers are only used for girl-based commercials. Because sciences of psychology and brains.

Marketers can format commercials to create underlying messages while simultaneously selling a product to children. Sneaky, Sneaky. Social standing is a main message that is portrayed through kids’ commercials.
Are in you in? or Are you out?
The commercials define not only who they are as a person through their own eyes, but also the eyes of their peers. Kid culture, though accelerated, has been focused around what is “cool,” or socially acceptable. Ok, yes, “cool” is a dated word, but necessary in this context. “Cool” is anything that the marketers deem as a must-have for social survival. But that One Direction album, “MOMMM I NEEEDDD ITTTT, IT COMES OUT TODAY AND I NEED ITTTT!!!”
And purchasing the must-haves leads to happy and fulfilled lives. Some messages are more direct than others. So essentially that One Direction album will make me the happiest ever, well until the next boy pop band comes along. Although, maybe there’s a point that I’m just now realizing. It could be a boy band thing, or a music thing in general, but at the age of 25 I’m going to be going to a Backstreet Boys concert this weekend, which will make me the happiest and satisfy my craving for nostalgia. Could a musical group be a brand? Absolutely, and apparently one that has been a must-have in my musical library since the Discman was invented. Now for claiming BSB has made my life fulfilled, would be a little ambitious, but then again Sunday I’ll probably have that frame of mind of life being fulfilled at that very moment. Maybe, I want it that way, and I don’t have to tell you why? (see what I did there?)
Ok, Ok but for commercial examples there’s Sketcher’s Pretty Tall Shoes which labeled the message of beauty. The product was branded with the words “pretty” and “tall,” telling the consumer what is beautiful. Pretty could’ve had a double meaning, as in they’re pretty tall in height in addition to the beauty standard. Hidden messaging, is all around.
Sketcher’s just keeps winning in the ridiculous shoe department with their recent Daddy’$ Money shoes, which essentially is the same thing as Pretty Tall shoes with the hidden wedge, just geared toward teenagers, and with the $ sign you would think they’d be sponsored by Ke$ha (Now who’s the genius marketer, ha).

It doesn’t matter if the product is food, clothing, or toys, children are trained by this “hypercommercialized” marketing wave to be vulnerable and give in to the messages. It’s time to snap out of zombie mode, people! We need to educate our kids and ourselves to the reality that kid culture has morphed into one of the largest consumer cultures allowing  advertisers and marketers to run rampant!

What ridiculous ads have you seen for kids lately? Share them in the comments. (extra brownie points (yum), gold stars and confetti for YouTube videos links!)

Moral Panic Mode: Parents

Kid culture is a relatively new(ish) phenomena defined by adults, (yup, guilty) who often have a clouded perspective of today’s youth. Adults view kids through the lens of moral panic. A moral panic occurs “when the official or press reaction to a deviant social or cultural phenomenon is ‘out of all proportion’ to the actual threat offered” (Mazzarella, 2007, 48). In addition, it is when a group is defined as a threat to the values of society and interests (Mazzarella, 2007). The purpose of the next 4 blog posts is to define how…

1) parents, 2) marketers, 3) journalists/documentarians, and 4) researchers aid in the development of the moral panic between adult culture and kid culture.

ParentsDistribution of media like CDs and DVDs has led to parents forming groups against these dispersal tactics. Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC) came on the scene in 1985, started by high profiled wives such as Tipper Gore, (ex)wife of then-senator Al Gore. Tipper Gore was shocked when she first heard the Prince song “Darling Nikki,” because the song references masturbation (Mazzarella, 2007). Though at the time the PMRC aimed to require all music, though predominately focused on heavy metal rock, to have a warning label if it contained explicit content inappropriate for children. Their passion spread to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In 1990 the RIAA adopted the “Parental Advisory/Explicit Lyrics” label that we now see when visiting record stores (Mazzarella, 2007). Though the high profiled wives and mothers were able to have their voices heard around the country, most parents don’t have the luxury. And with the popularity of online music sales through iTunes, Spotify, etc. the world of music (TV, movies, etc) is WIDE open for kids with a computer or smartphone and a wifi connection, see: EVERY kid, has access to any and all music.  

Parents are forced to create their own rules for use in their household from music and television to the Internet. “One approach is through ‘restrictive mediation,’ a practice in which parents make rules about amount or time of viewing allowed, define forbidden content, and use media as part of a reward or punishment system” (Bachen, 2007, 242). The younger the child the more rules are placed on when, where and for how long use can take place. Parents of adolescents may lower their guard when it comes to displaying their favorite media characters, simply because they have more control over it in the home. By letting their children take part in “adolescent room culture,” the bedroom becomes a place where he or she “engage in identity work and investigate their future possibilities through media,” (Fisherkeller, 2007, 229). However, as parents become more familiar with the medium, particularly the Internet, rules may evolve (Bachen, 2007).

“Parents are deeply fearful about the World Wide Web’s influence on their children, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s national survey of parents in computer households in the United States” (Aikat, 2005, 3). The Internet is a main concern because of the wide-range of freedom it gives children (Stern and Willis, 2007). Yet another reason why Facebook should have never left their college niche. “Teens have more autonomy to do, say and go where they wish than they have had historically” (Stern and Willis, 2007, 217). The three ways teenagers use the Internet is for communication, information seeking, and content creation. They communicate with their friends through Instant Messaging, (awww RIP, AIM) Facebook Messaging and Text Messaging with the phones they now have and the ripe age of eight. Damn you societal norms. They also use the Internet to seek information for school assignments and often complete those assignments now completely online. Now, more popular than ever kids are posting photos via Instagram, tweeting tweets they shouldn’t be during school hours and maybe writing the occasional blog post. Despite these uses parents are still concerned with access to “inappropriate” content.

Having the world’s information at the thumbs of your kids is scary sure with websites that have content about “eating disorders, bomb making, alcohol, smoking, and most of all, pornography,” parents are concerned teens who are seeking information about these topics will find an overload of information easily and those teens not seeking this type of information may accidently stumble upon it (Stern and Willis, 2007, 218; Aikat, 2005). For example, whitehouse.gov is the official website of the government establishment, but an unknowing teen may accidently type in the dot com (.com) address only to find explicit content. Note: It’s no longer an explicit site like it was when I was in sixth grade, but for the sake of argument…that example will do. Right? thanks.

But I have also found in recent talks with parents (disclaimer: I’m not a parent) that the “everybody’s-doing-it syndrome” is taking over. And as a parent it’s getting more difficult to just say “no” to requests like “everyone has a cellphone, mom” which can quickly elaborate to “everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, insert all the social networking tools here.”
So as a parent…what do you do? Do you give in? What age is an appropriate age to allow your son or daughter to handle the responsibility of a cellphone and online communications. Parents, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment!

Drowning in Brands, Quick Toss The Kids LifeSavers!

In today’s society we are infiltrated with brands through advertisements that play Houdini mind tricks on us, which at some point (probably right away) form our opinions of what clothing we wear, food we eat, toys we buy, etc. But if you’re a kid/teenager, you are drowning in it and don’t have a chance to come up for air! Someone toss the kids Life Savers (see what I did there?)

drowninginbrandsOn average an American teenager spends 31 hours a week watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, and 10 hours online. (LoveSocial with MissRepresentation.org) And well marketers are no dummies, they hit those groups full-force straight in the ‘noggin.

In college I watched a documentary called Consuming Kids. You should watch it, highly fascinating and scary all at the same time! AH. 
My knowledge of this documentary resurfaced when Anna Lappe a concerned mother and food mythbuster honed in on the food industry in particular and the obsession that kids develop.

“The food industry says themselves that they spend $2 billion every year in marketing directly to children and teenagers,” said Lappe in her TEDxTalk. “When you think about it in the context that diet related illnesses among young people are on the rise, and we think about this omnipresent marketing I think it isn’t an exaggeration that is has become down right dangerous.”

Yep, Lappe knows what’s up. When I (hopefully) become a parent I can only shield my children so much because, like the Lappe and Consuming Kids noted, commercialization is burying children under a pile of consumer messages. It’s inevitable they will receive that commercial stimulus in schools, day care, or at slumber parties, EV.ERY.WHERE. It’s not ideal to guard children from social situations because that doesn’t help children develop either. It’s clear that parenting in the 21st Century is more difficult than ever!

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