Recently in USA Today, there was an article about Malia Obama on how she is inspiring girls. She wasn’t inspiring them because of her interests or her dreams but rather because of what she was wearing and how her body looked. The article byline read “Is a fashion magazine in her future?” There is nothing wrong with teenage girls wanting to be fashionable but by focusing on Malia’s fashion sense and appearance rather than her ambitions, what are we inspiring girls to achieve?
It is important to recognize that kids look to their peers in the media as role models and want to emulate them based on what they wear or own. One study from the National Institute on Media and the Family found that at age 13, 53% of girls are unhappy with their bodies. This grows to 78% by the time girls reach 17. It is difficult to find positive role models in the media.
This is why it is important that the President’s daughters should be looked up to for their focus on academics, involvement in the community and talents, such as dance and basketball. Their ability to dress fashionably should not be the focus when it pales in comparison to their other achievements.
Seventeen fashion director Gina Kelly wrote, “That’s inspiring to girls,” Kelly says. “Especially when they’re that age, they’re not too confident in trying new trends or putting together clothes in a different way. Girls are really hungry for, ‘Gosh, how do I wear it?’ and I think she can show them that.”
While we can agree that girls do need more role models for dressing appropriately without the need for short-shorts and low cut tops; we need to emphasize that outward appearance does not determine value.
Girls are easily influenced by what society and the media deem important. As long as we place importance on the outward appearance of girls rather than their aspirations, where does their future lie?