dgraab , Parent asks:

By allowing my seven-year-old to watch Hannah Montana, Cheetah Girls, High School Musical, etc., am I setting her up for body image issues later?

I am concerned about the body image messages that some of the pop culture girl icons/role models may be projecting.

Some seem fine, like iCarly, who is intelligent, doesn't dress like a diva, doesn't lie (or tries not to lie), and produces a web show with her friends (she also maintains a supportive relationship with her brother). But some of the girl characters on Disney, Nickelodeon, etc. worry me a bit.

Like Hannah Montana, the Cheetah Girls and the High School Musical girls. They may be better suited for older girls (pre-teen and/or teen), even though they strongly appeal to the younger girls. The characters dress teen-style and the episodes seem to be focused on (innocent) romantic relationships and teen themes. On the positive side: the storylines also seem to communicate values of truth-telling and doing the right thing, including doing well in school.

But by allowing my daughter to occasional watch these shows (and to have the associated dolls, toys, backpacks & other memorabilia), am I setting her up for a low self-esteem and body image issues later in junior high or high school? Will she face these issues regardless of the TV shows, and what can I do as a parent to help her develop a strong self esteem and love herself in any size, shape or style?

I suspect that if I ban these shows (turning them into forbidden fruit), I could expand the problem, and I'm thinking there must be other ways to help girls develop strong self-esteem. What do you think?
In Topics: Self esteem and identity
> 60 days ago



Sep 24, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hello!  My suggestion would be to use these shows as teachable moments.  If you see behavior that is inappropriate ask your child how the characters could have acted differently. Interject your opinions in to the conversation, too.  Also, positive role models and conversation regarding body image may help counter attack any television influence.

It is true, that sometime what seems like a benign child's program is really an inappropriate show and some shows that appear to have mature themes are acceptable.

There are parent rating scales for television programs available.  I have added some useful websites to help you when chosing television and movies for your child.

Thanks for asking!

Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of SigningFamilies.com
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Additional Answers (2)

Tyler&Harly , Student writes:
i for one think that some shows are inappropriate for 7 year olds but id say most of them are ok....but it is really your decision not mine.... Whatever you think is ok id say it would be ok because your the parent and no one can make decisions for you , do what you think is right to do
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Actually my nine-year-old watches Hannah Montana and she is relatively positive. I think too much TV in general may not be good but at least you are aware of what she is watching. What I don't like is what they recently did with the American Girls. They have a new movie and it is not appropriate. They are trying to do the highschool stuff in elementary school. Its showing girls teasing each other and saying things "as if"...It just does not make sense. Its an inaccurate picture of that age group.
> 60 days ago

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