“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
True. And man, the speed with which things stay the same has really picked up.
A recent SHAPE magazine survey found that 68% of women would give up sex for at least a month to get an “ideal bikini body.” Here are two photos of a magazine kiosk I recently took at O’Hare airport. Gee, I wonder why women would feel so much pressure to look good? (Ironically, the men’s magazine covers are much more diverse. It appears that all of the women’s magazines have been sexualized, except one about cupcakes.)
This isn’t a rant against the media. And this certainly isn’t some kumbaya post about how we should all just grow up and start acting with maturity. What good would that do?
I can’t do anything about that magazine rack. I can’t stop my kids from seeing it when we travel. Nor can I stop them from seeing the TV ads, movie posters, or store displays that convey the same message. I wouldn’t dare try to legislate this issue—today’s politicians import theocracy and gender inequality just as fast as they export democracy and human rights. Forget it.
So here’s what I can do. I can take an interest in who my kids are. Not how they look, but who they are. I can check in once a week with the older one. I can read to the younger one. I can take them on regular dates. I can ask them about their days and pester them about their friends. I can drag them along on errands and show them what I’m buying and why. I can have them help me build my decks for work. I can quiz them on their spelling. I can set high expectations for their school work and celebrate with them when they meet them. I can have dinner with them and kiss them goodnight. I can answer their calls and email them pictures of funny things I see during the day. I can remember what they tell me from one conversation to the next. I can deal with them with integrity. I can trust them with the truth.
I can’t stop them from seeing those magazines. But maybe—just maybe—I can fill them with enough character that they’ll never feel they need what those rags are selling.
A dad can dream, right?
Thanks for listening.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.