“Smart girls get ready for the future” – a slogan that could be well fitted at a school hallway or up on a bill board. When you see it, you immediately sense a person with an advice to give is standing around the corner. But then again; what would be wrong with a little bit of advice? To get prepared for the future you need some help from your peers, or parents, school, administrators… And girl magazines!.
The cited study examined the impact of advice, wrapped in life stories, comic strips, and columns, as it was given in several girl magazines to see whether girls in the pre-school age would accept and follow (gender-related) recommendations. It turned out that the impact of advice was little. No ‘GirlsLife’ domination, no ‘Total Girl’ cloning was recognized in what young female pupils of that age moved (1).
From an advice giving perspective, it would be of interest to explore what lies beneath this apparent divergence. Advice giving has to deal with acceptance and following recommendations on part of the advice taker. Self-determination (2), i.e., not to follow the path outlined by others for you but exploring ‘unknown grounds’ on your own, may well be what it is all about, even at young age. It is much like stepping on an iced surface carefully listening to the steps you make on the ice to see how far you can safely go. It is exciting and fun, and above all: a source of learning. Advice is all too often obvious and plain. You know it already; it is the thing that you want to see it for yourself. It is seems that girl magazines, as we learn from this study, are walking on thin ice.
Preschool Girls and the Media: How Magazines Describe and Depict Gender Norms by Mikako Hata
International Journal of early childhood (2014) 46:373–389, Springer Science+ Business Media