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How many times have you heard your daughter singing along to a popular song on the radio and innocently belting out the kind of lyrics that would otherwise get her sent to her room? In the moment, you believe (desperately want to believe!) that she is unaware of the innuendo and unaffected by its explicit content.
But messages embedded in song lyrics, along with video imagery, and advertising influence do have an impact on the ways girls think about themselves and their relationships with others. Without having to resort to a full-on pop music ban or complete shunning of media, you can help your daughters-and other young girls-become aware of media messages that violate values and degrade girls:
Related: Should You Censor Your Teen's Music?
The next time your daughter is singing along to a catchy tune with questionable lyrics, use the opportunity to ask her questions like:
• What do you like about his song?
• How do you feel when you listen to it?
• What is it about?
• Have you ever watched the music video for this song?
• Did the video storyline match the words?
• How did the video make you feel when you watched it?
• How were the actors/dancers in the video dressed?
Be sure to convey your genuine interest in her music and opinions rather than coming across as an interrogator. You will be walking a fine line between showing interest in her world and "judging" her taste in music. As long as you can resist the urge to lecture, there can be almost limitless potential for talking about pop music and videos of the day, from lead singers to their fashions, to the messages they are trying to convey, and so on. Let your daughter take the lead.
The goal of this conversation is not to condemn your daughter's taste in music and videos. Rather, asking her to evaluate the lyrics and video images can help her become a more informed consumer and better critical thinker when it comes to awareness of the media influences that surround her on a daily basis.
When young girls get in the habit of asking themselves questions about what they are hearing, seeing, dancing to day after day, and singing out loud, they develop a protective measure of insight and control over ubiquitous media messages -- rather than the other way around.
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Models of Perfection
The next time you and your daughter are browsing magazines or watching entertainment news on TV, strike up a conversation about how popular advertisements and celebrity photos often bend the truth and trick consumer into seeing things that do not really exist.