How can I become a pretty girl

Mom blog -

"I'll protect you, little princess": Is that really the role. that we want to teach our children? Photo: iStock

If you look around children's clothing stores, the difference is evident: Girls are offered T-shirts with prints such as “Sweet”, “Fashion Queen” or cute, bulging-eyed animals, while boys are dominated by superheroes or grim-looking tigers and dinosaurs. A new international study shows that this fashion corresponds one-to-one to the stereotypes that society instills in its offspring from an early age: "Children internalize the myth very early on that girls are vulnerable and boys are strong and independent," says study director Robert Blum opposite the «mirror». And this message is constantly underpinned by siblings, classmates, teachers and relatives. Or the fashion industry.

For the study, young people between 10 and 14 years of age in 15 countries were interviewed. It became clear that in all countries, appearance is a central issue for girls from an early age. It may be expressed differently depending on the environment: In India the body becoming womanly is considered a risk and must be veiled; In the USA, on the other hand, teenage girls refer to their bodies as their greatest asset and try to be as attractive as possible without, however, exceeding a certain limit. Either way: the exterior is the big issue - as if there was nothing else.

The stereotypes also have a negative impact on the boys. Because they are supposed to be strong at all times, they get into physical confrontations more often and are at greater risk of dying in accidents. In addition, parents invest significantly more in protecting their daughters than their sons, because the latter are supposed to be able to defend themselves.

Girls don't call themselves smart

Another study at the beginning of the year brought to light that seven-year-olds are already of the opinion that brilliance is a masculine quality. The children were told a story about someone who was extremely clever. If the children were asked afterwards who this person was, the majority of the seven-year-old girls guessed a male protagonist. The boys, on the other hand, believed 65 percent of their own gender. For the five-year-olds, the numbers were still balanced.

The same study also found that while girls think they can work hard, they don't think they are naturally smart. In contrast to the boys of the same age who appear much more self-confident.

When I read such results, I get angry every time. Angry that such stereotypes have still not disappeared, yes, we rather continue to cement them. However, I cannot say that the results surprise me.

Typical girl, typical boy

How often have I heard from other mothers in the playground that my own children are “atypical” for their gender: the girl too wild, the boy so calm. Heard sentences like "She's brave for a girl!" As if girls couldn't climb trees and play football. And boys would be strange if they sit down alone and paint a picture in peace.

Girls can also be brave and wild: Ronja the robber's daughter from the film of the same name and her shy friend Birk. Film still: via Youtube.com

During my upbringing, I have always resisted such thought patterns and believe that my children have retained a certain openness as a result. Nevertheless, it now happens at home that the grown-ups tell the little ones that something is “bad for boys”. After all, we don't live in a bubble, and the offspring get the “A girl has to be like this and a boy has to be different” - talk outside of town too - and the older the children get, the more important the opinion of friends of the same age becomes.

If such topics arise at the family table, I continue to try to teach my children to think openly and tolerantly. But sometimes I wonder what it will be like when the kids become teenagers. Will there ever come a day when I'll treat my daughter differently because of her gender? Perhaps unconsciously? Talking you out of the miniskirt out of concern because I find it too tight - while I give the son a free hand with outfitting, however getting used to he wants to walk around?

I dont know. So I'm all the more curious to see how you handle this and whether you might notice that you yourself treat your daughter and son differently in certain situations.

***

Notification on your own behalf: Due to a large number of offensive and racist statements in the past days and weeks, all comments will be activated manually from now on. It can therefore sometimes take a while before a comment appears. We ask for your understanding and look forward to lively discussions and constructive criticism. The editorial office

Jeanette Kuster is a mother of two, a journalist and communications specialist. She has worked as an editor for various media in the lifestyle and culture departments. She lives with her family near Zurich.