Girl Talk: Interview with Author Dr. Carol Langlois About her new Book for Teen Girls.

6V0TMg_Q5vjyDX905DSgR6lLNxBXApclLF8qhPSQxvQYour Teen Magazine Interview

We’ve loved Dr. Carol Langlois’s advice for Your Teen readers over the years, so we were excited to hear about her new book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies & Body Image. We caught up with Dr. Carol to find out more.

Tell us about the approach you took with this book?

In total, I interviewed (and taped) about 160 girls from 10 schools in the Bay Area. After sharing my taped interviews with a few other writers and editors, they suggested that sharing (their stories) from a first person perspective would be very powerful. In the end, I chose 10 stories of ten girls who’s challenges with self-esteem were relatable and transcended culture, race, and socio-economics.

What’s going well for girls these days? 

I would say that their access to and utilization of information is abundant. They can educate themselves on so many topics more easily today. If they want to learn about puberty, smoking, pregnancy, healthy eating, etc.—they can. They know the risks and the pro and cons of most things to make better informed decisions. Many teens today have strong opinions about drugs and alcohol, the environment, or global warming for example because of information from the web. This is incredibly beneficial in helping them make smart choices.

But many are struggling? 

For the book, I interviewed quite a few girls who were dealing with or had survived through some form of an eating disorder, which I think is worth noting. More abundantly were issues of perfection and anxiety—not necessarily unrelated to eating disorders.

Stop the critical self-talk. Instead, model positive self-acceptance around girls.

Teens are stressed out more than ever. I call this  the “duck syndrome.” Think about the duck who looks very serene, calm, and pleasant floating along a lake. Then, if you look under the water she is paddling frantically. That is the duck syndrome. Too many students on the outside appear calm, cool, and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out. Its a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. For many, they want to be the great student, the great athlete, and well-liked by peers. But what price do they pay? Proving you can do it all has transformed into an ugly state of unattainable expectations and extremes, which are unhealthy for teens at any age. I’ve seen this further progress into eating disorders for the perfect body and drug addictions to manage the high pace and stress. This is a recipe for disaster.

- See more of this interview here.

About these ads

Bullying: A Proactive Approach for Parents

Excerpt from my recent article for The Five Moms Blog

The face of teen bullying has really changed over the years. It’s not restricted to the old image of a bully in the cafeteria or on the bus that calls you names to your face or picks a physical fight with you. It can be a group ignoring your child, avoiding them or acting like they are invisible. With social media, it’s even easier to bully via Facebook, texts, tweets, etc. Cyberbullies can be sneaky these days. They might hide their identity – sharing damaging photos of your child, leaving anonymous comments or targeting their victims in other indirect ways. For some teens, telling mom and dad that they are being bullied, doesn’t feel like an option. It makes it more real and they don’t know how their parents are going to respond, so they often decide to keep it to themselves.

Here are three pieces of advice:

  1. Practice assertiveness training techniques with your kids at home. It can be tied to a game, a healthy debate or a dinner conversation. Use bullying as the main topic and let the conversation naturally unfold. Starting with a question usually helps. “What does bullying look like these days?” Or, if your child wants a more private experience, encourage them to practice assertiveness in front of their bedroom mirror. Have them stare their reflection straight in the eyes as they speak. Give them some language if they don’t know what to say. Practicing NO is always a good start. “No, you can’t look at my homework.” “No, I’m not listening to you.” “No, I’m not doing that.” As they say it to the mirror, have them focus on their tone. Sometimes how you say something is even more powerful than the actual words you say. Then they can more comfortably transfer these techniques to an actual bullying situation.

To read more click here.

 

Think Beyond “Pink” This Holiday Season: Promote Self-Esteem

Now that we’re well into the holiday season, it’s been interesting to see a rise in the promotion of gifts for girls that eschew traditional gender stereotypes.  Alongside this trend is renewed pushback against segregation of toys by gender within department stores.  About a year ago the famed British department store Harrods revamped its “Toy Kingdom” and made the significant decision to not separate toys along gender lines.  Now, New Moon Girls, a venerable publication committed to fostering girls’ self-esteem has started a petition to ask Target to “take down the pink and blue walls so boys and girls can enjoy the toys they like freely.”  And in Sweden there has been pressure to get Top Toys, the country’s main toy distributor, to stop publishing catalogs with “outdated stereotypes.”

images-1

It’s also been interesting to see an uptick in girls themselves speaking out against the constraints of gender-stereotyped marketing.  This YouTube video of 5-year-old Riley speaking out about the unfairness of products marketed to girls went viral last year, reiterating that girls themselves don’t want the overflow of pink directed at them.  Another social media campaign just launched in which 13-year-old sister McKenna Pope explains she wanted to get her brother, who loves to cook, an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven for the holidays, but he protested, saying it wasn’t a toy for boys, since there were no boys pictured on the box.   She’s asking Hasbro to think through their marketing strategy again, and mentions how commonplace top male chefs are in American culture.  Hence, why not have gender-neutral packaging on the box?

By contrast, it’s been heartening not only to see the launch of GoldieBlox, a product designed to help young girls explore engineering, but the lightning-quick support the product, now in production, garnered.  There was the recent debut in Canada of a new doll meant to hew more closely to a “real girl’s” body. “Toys are not just toys,” said Lucie Follett, co-founder of Arklu, the small London-based company that makes the dolls. “When they have overly sexualized bodies they can have damaging impacts on girls’ self image.” The New York Times recently wrote about more fathers buying gifts for girls and the shift that this creates in what girls are given to play with.  The recent release of Mega Bloks Barbie Build ‘n Style line is much anticipated as the first Barbie product that involves building and construction.  It is a kind of progress, yet the sets still look pretty pink.

Research has continued to support the idea that girls learn what their gender function is meant to be through what they are given to play with or what is marketed to them.  This collection of toys for infants and toddlers includes several makeup sets.

Happily, multiple websites that support girls have offered up guides that reinforce that gifts for girls don’t have to be all about pink, princesses, and powder puffs.  Ms. Magazine offers “Put Down that Barbie!: A (Non-Gendered) Gift Guide for Girls, which is detailed by age.  The website A Mighty Girl also has a Holiday Gift Guide which includes “Small but Mighty” Stocking Stuffers as well as The Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess.”  Melissa Wardy at Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies also has a wide variety of T-shirts and other products geared toward changing up stereotypes for both girls and boys.