Advertising and the self-esteem of a 7-year-old

Jamie is taking a sociology course right now. One of his assignments was to pick five television commercials and analyze them for their idea of beauty and sexual message. Good thing we have TV now. Last night we spent an hour and a half going through the channels in the MTV/VH1/BET (there are like 5 of each of those now!) block looking for commercials that fit the criteria. It’s funny, though, that we were specifically looking for commercials. We love our DVR for the precise reason that we can skip all the commercials.

So of course the analysis was that commercials from the Bowflex one to the Razr2 one to the Herbal Essences Body Envy one give the ideal of beauty as being incredibly toned, generally white skinned, silky haired, and thin. And of course if you buy their product you can be just as toned and beautiful as they are and have the opposite sex ogle you. No surprise there.

Ani watched all the commercials with us and got very good at identifying whether or not an ad was “sexy.” After we finished watching all those commercials for the assignment, I was talking to Ani and decided to see if those ads had an affect on her self-esteem. I asked her if she thought she was beautiful. No hesitation, she absolutely does think so. I asked her if she thinks she is attractive to boys. Laughing, she almost shrieked, “No!” (clearly being attractive to boys is NOT a good thing according to this particular 7 year old). And, finally, I asked her to tell me how much she likes herself on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being hates herself and 10 being absolutely loves herself. She thought about this one for quite some time and finally said “Ten. I love myself.”

So, at least for now, my 7 year old’s self-esteem is not influenced by the ads that say that you are somehow less of a person because you aren’t beautiful and airbrushed to perfection. I hope and pray it stays that way.

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