Have you heard this term “Deitainment” floating around social media? As I mentioned in my earlier post, it’s a new term to me, one coined by Multi Grain Cheerios, but the concept is a familiar one. Knowing what it is and that it’s probably influencing my children, the bigger question is what can I (and other parents) do about it.
When I showed my 13 year old the video interviews with young kids her own age, she wasn’t surprised by the content.
“We talk about it at school all the time. I know that some of the images aren’t real because of photoshop but I still can’t help but get worried about how my body compares.”
We have had many conversations at home about body image and how the media manipulates images to sell a message. At home my daughter agrees but things change when it comes to raising these points at school.
“It depends on the friends I’m with. Some friends I can say that the dieting issue is crazy and make fun of the messages magazines tell us but other friends would comment on me overreacting. Sometimes I just agree or I don’t say anything.”
The whole “Dietainment” has infiltrated popular television shows too. My daughter cited BONES, a program that portrays a smart, opinionated female lead and one of her favourite shows. An episode praised a character for maintaining her 100 pound weight and my daughter, who is much younger, wondered why she weighted more than this older TV show character.
As parents we try our best to raise caring, strong, responsible kids but at some point outside influences start to leak into their lives. We can’t shelter them from many of these influences but there are ways we can address the issue of “Dietainment” in our homes.
Sign the Petition. Add your voice to the 16,000 plus adults who want media to understand our concerns about this phenomenon. And it’s working:
We leveraged these signatures to meet with some Canadian media and content publishers and we were thrilled that two outlets – Divine.ca and Faze magazine – are publicly supporting our #StopDietainment and have committed to keeping their magazines and websites Dietainment free!
Listen to Tweens
. If you think this isn’t an issue that affects your daughter, watch the candid videos from tweens. Have your kids watch these videos and talk about their thoughts and experiences. Are there similarities?
. I’m not talking about stalking what your son and daughter are consuming but take a more active interest. When watching television are they exposed to commercials that portray beauty in an unrealistic light? What are their favourite YouTube and Instagram stars? What is it about them that is appealing to your kids? Know what your kids are seeing and you might even create a more open dialogue about their life.
Encourage Positive Messaging. You can’t hide your kids from the outside world and frankly I wouldn’t recommend it. Hiding from reality doesn’t change reality. You can encourage positive messaging. I wrote a post for Melissa & Doug earlier this year on a similar topic, talking about remembering the good from the day. Why not encourage your daughter to keep a journal and jot down something positive about themselves each day. This could range from how creative they were putting their outfit together, going first during a class presentation even though they were nervous, or geting a higher mark on that math test than expected (studying did pay off).
Don’t Make Everything About Looks. I think out of habit we as parents reference our daughter’s looks and physical attributes as a way of complimenting them and building self-esteem. Sure everyone likes to hear they look good but when these comments become the main positive points made to our daughters, it’s no wonder they strive to maintain those “girlish charms” even when they’ve entered the awkward stage of adolescents. I love this post from Thought Catalogue, 30 Compliments I’m Going to Give My Daughter (That Have Nothing to Do With the Way She Looks). Our daughters are more than long lashes and beautiful features and it’s our job as parents to make sure they know as much.
Remember It Starts With You. I’m sure you’ve heard it many times. As parents we are models for our kids’ behaviour but do we practice what we preach? We tell our kids that looks don’t matter in the same breath we comment negatively on how we look in our own jeans. Check your comments to ensure you’re not sending mixed messages, reinforcing the messages we’re trying to fight in “dietainment”.
Of course the hope is that media will hear the voices of concerned parents like you and me who have signed the petition but there are ways we can curb the influence of “dietainment” in our homes. The above 6 ideas are ways I’ll be working on this issue in my family and hopefully some of these ideas help you. If you’ve been dealing with this same issue I would love to hear what has worked for you.
This post was sponsored by Multi-Grain Cheerios but as always the thoughts and experiences expressed are my own. Images sourced from the Multi-Grain Cheerios Dietainment campaign.