Middle School Monday: Teens, Body Image and Wonder Woman
A couple of weeks ago, my teenage daughter came to me, lifted up her shirt and told me she was thin. And I had what may arguably be one of my worst parenting moments. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I’m not, so what.”
As the mom to a middle school girl, I remember very well how I developed an eating disorder in middle school. I am now an adult woman the age of 44 and I continue to struggle with body image issues, a healthy relationship with food, and how to help my daughters not have my issues. Parenting and librarianing to teens can be hard y’all.
Which brings me to Wonder Woman.
This is an abomination. Tons of little/teen girls will see their 1st female superheroe movie & this is the messaging they will see. https://t.co/d8x4lmOfWo
— TeenLibrarianToolbox (@TLT16) May 7, 2017
I have been looking forward to the Wonder Woman movie for years as it languished in production, changed directors, etc. And I didn’t really realize it was coming out so soon until The Mary Sue shared an article about how they weren’t really marketing the movie, and they’re not. While I couldn’t avoid a Guardians of the Galaxy commercial or tie-in, I had no idea that Wonder Woman’s release was fast approaching (June 2nd).
As the mom to two girls, I have made it my mission to financially support female centric entertainment because there just isn’t enough of it and we know that in the world of entertainment, box office receipts and viewer ratings are what speaks to the gatekeepers. So we go see the movies (if we financially can when they come out).
But then I learned that they were doing some marketing tie-in with the Wonder Woman – with a health diet bar called Think Thin. That’s right, we finally get a solo female superhero movie and the dangerous marketing tie in they choose is Think Thin. I can not even begin to tell you about the disgust I feel in the pit of my stomach. This is dangerous messaging to send to the tweens and teens who are anxiously awaiting their first chance to see a female led superhero movie. It reinforces every negative body image message these young people receive, and they receive a lot.
And now as a mother and a woman, I am forced into a deep ethical quandary: do I go see the movie to support women in film and risk endorsing this message or do I take an ethical stand of opposition and risk having the studios say see, we tried a female superhero movie and it didn’t work? As a woman, I resent that the studio have put me in this position. As a mother, I resent that they are once again telling my daughters that “thin” is the ideal. As an eating disorder survivor, I can not emphasize to you enough the harm that this does.
Make no mistake, I have boycotted film and television before and I share with my daughters the reasons we are doing so. For example, though The Teen wanted to go see Passengers I explained to her what my concerns about the movie were and we decided not to support it financially.
But I really don’t know what to do about Wonder Woman. And I resent that I am put in the situation of having to try and figure out whether I want to support a female superhero movie or whether I need to boycott it to make a statement about how we harm women with our messaging about body types.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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