Has the selfie backlash started? I surely hope so.
Are you dreading puberty? You’re not alone. Having a teenager living with you is challenging, but add in social media, and you have a recipe for parental anxiety.
Puberty means saying farewell to a carefree childhood and a cautious hello to growth spurts, pimples, and anxiety wrapped in a blanket of drama.
But turning thirteen is not the same it used to be. Before social media and screens everywhere, we navigated a small world. It comprised our home life, friends, school, and our sports or social clubs.
Benefits and drawbacks
Blowing out thirteen candles also means your child can legally set up a social media account. But, while social media has opened a bigger world to our kids, with that comes pitfalls. Consider this: 80% of girls distort the way they look online by the age of 13. Now, I don’t know what the figures are for boys, but I’m willing to bet they’re not far behind.
Along with influencers like the Kardashians who curate their pictures of their ‘best life,’ filters and touch-up apps give our children even more reasons to dislike their appearance while allowing them to swipe away the bits they don’t like.
The reverse selfie by Dove
I can therefore only applaud Dove’s latest ad: the reverse selfie.
The company, famous for its ad campaigns celebrating ‘real women’s beauty,’ is on a mission to show us the impact selfie culture has on our young and vulnerable girls and boys.
With their new ad, they take us through the process of a young girl changing her appearance, starting from the result. Thus what you see is this: a stunning supermodel, slowly revealing layers of herself until you’re left looking at a shockingly young girl. Spoiler alert: it might make you teary.
I have watched this ad a couple of times, and its effect on me still takes me by surprise. Like the best ads, it’s powerful because of its simplicity.
Reading the comments below the Youtube clip shows us exactly why we should back Dove’s mission. Take this one posted by Chloe Anne.
‘I’m 19 years old, and I wish so badly I hadn’t grown up with social media. It ruined my self-esteem, and I became so good at editing pictures and doing makeup and losing weight. We diminish women to our appearance. I wish I could go back in time and take my phone away.’
Dove is on a mission to guide us
However, Dove didn’t design this ad to make you sad. It wants to give us hope and tools to help our children so they won’t feel like Chloe Anne does. At the end of the ad, Dove implores us to have the ‘selfie talk’ with our children, and it provides free toolkits for parents and teachers to show us how.
How can we help our kids?
As our kids enter social media at an ever-younger age, parents and teachers need to take action. How?
- Be aware of social media pitfalls by educating yourself. Start here.
- Show this ad in homes and schools, and talk about it with your kids, or the children you’re teaching. Let’s show them how to enter social media while keeping their mental wellbeing intact.
When our children turn thirteen, they can legally enter social media. But while this gives them opportunities, it also exposes them to group pressures that can harm their mental wellbeing. With 80% of girls altering their looks online by the age of 13, it’s imperative parents and teachers can offer support when they need it.
Dove has created a comprehensive campaign to encourage parents and teachers to have the ‘selfie talk’ to tackle self-esteem issues and digital distortion. Check out the ad and toolkits on their website.
Turning thirteen means learning how to navigate societal pressures, so let’s hold our children’s hands while they do it.
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