If Feminism is about equality and choice, then why are young women more insecure than ever? I would have thought that by now, the whole how you dress thing would be the very least feminism would have sorted out. As never before young girls are being targetted and influenced by images giving them the message - the less you wear the more attention you will get and your looks are the only thing that matter about you - whah?
The message in a Dove (skin products) clip posted on Brigid O'Connor's lovely blog here
has been going around in my head for weeks. (Just in case you can't access, it highlights images of perfect female bodies, cosmetic surgery and the pressures imposed by the beauty industry as witnessed by a young girl)
And if I needed convincing just how up close and personal this pressure is, my recent experience of my eleven year old daughter's venture to the local GAA junior disco, certainly did the job. "But everyone dresses like that," was the response to my protest at the micro shorts and t-shirt. Sure enough, a queue of bare, shivering, calf-like legs lined outside the clubhouse entrance. Each young girl dressed (or not, if you prefer) identically. The starkest contrast was the young male apparel - everyday jeans and football shirts - pressure certainly not equal here.
In Raising Girls, Australian author Steve Biddulph writes a chapter on 'Too sexy, too soon'
"The aim of advertising is to attack your mental health - to worry you and make you discontent. If you want to sell products to a girl, whether she is 4 or 14, you first have to make her insecure - about her looks, friends, clothes, weight, skin and hair. Everything about her is an opportunity to fail."
Biddulph offers sound advice to mothers for helping their daughters resist the onslaught of commercial interests, including no telly in bedrooms and talking a lot to them instead of them relying on soaps and rom-coms for influence and information.
Mind you, I need a bit of a reminding myself on how to stay strong in the face of it all.
I'm hoping Clarissa Pinkola Estes' much praised book will help.