Besides, it's basically the exact same thing I said about little girls and body image when the well-meaning parents and educators threw a big, fat hissy fit over the size of Lily James's waist when the Cinderella trailer came out last March.
Likewise, we've got parents who are "banning Barbie" in favor of Barbie's more "realistic" cousin, Lammily.
Who, as an eight-year-old child, thought, "Wow! My Barbie doll has such unrealistic proportions! Real women have smaller breasts! Average women have sorter legs and thicker necks! And where is her acne?"
No one. Because kids are experts at imaginary play. They are experts at creativity and curiosity. And they are not sophisticated enough consumers to see Barbie as anything but a toy -- a blank slate. She can be a villain, a scuba diver, a veterinarian... or, yes, a cheerleader or fashion model. (Sorry -- is there a problem with traditionally feminine occupations?) Heck, Barbie can even be used as a weapon, a projectile or a paintbrush.
Still not following? Think of it this way: kids don't look at her and compare their (pre-pubescent) bodies to Jasmine and Ariel. Kids don't look at Barbie and feel bad about themselves. Unless... (wait for it)... adults tell them to.
Except you did. Kids are excellent social modelers. They are experts on picking up on your fears, attitudes and behaviors. Even when they're babies, they can read your emotions to decide what is "safe," and what is dangerous. A baby will literally crawl off a (perceived) cliff is the mother's face indicates that it is safe to do so.
You teach them that beauty is a girl's main source of confidence. And the only way for a girl not to develop body-image issues is to avoid and reject images of beautiful women.
Not to mention the whole sexist double standard. I don't hear people complaining about how unrealistically strong and handsome Gaston (Beauty and the Beast) and Christoff (Frozen) are. Even though -- whoa! Check out how unrealistic they are:
Fine. Then how come you didn't complain about how unrealistically wealthy Bat Man and Iron Man are? (After all, there are a hell of a lot more size 0's than there are multibillionaires in this world.)
Perhaps Mindy Kaling puts it best in her amazing new book (which you should drop everything and go read right now), Why Not Me?
A general assumption about confidence is that women, particularly young women, will have very little of it, and girls will have zero of it. Just the attitude alone makes me sad: "We have to help our girls and teach them to be confident." Well, guess what, young girls. You aren't damsels in distress. You aren't hostages to the words of your peers. You aren't the victims that even your well-meaning teachers and advocates think you are.
We just assume boys will be confident, like how your parents assume you will brush your teeth every morning without checking in on you in the bathroom. With girls, that assumption flies out the window. Suddenly, your parents are standing in the bathroom with you, watching you brush your teeth with encouraging, worried expressions on their faces. Sweetheart, you can do it! We know it's hard to brush your teeth! We love you! Which must make girls think, Yikes. Is brushing your teeth a really hard and scary thing to do? I thought it was just putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. I get worried that telling girls how difficult it is to be confident implies a tacit expectation that girls won't be able to do it.
I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’" she said. "I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?
It's kind of like when you ask someone, "Hey, are you okay?" "Hey, you look tired." "Are you feeling okay?" In all likelihood, they were totally fine. But now, your dumbass, inconsiderate question made them feel bad -- like, "Wait! Maybe I am tired!" "Why would he ask that -- do I look bad today? Was what I just said stupid?" You're disempowering an already disadvantaged group, and that is a very bad thing.
Please don't do that to your students and/or daughters.