The Beautiful Like Me Project was started to discuss self-esteem and body image in today’s youth. WickedStepMom, Tricia at Shout, and Amy at FiveFlowerMom – along with several other bloggers – are tackling this issue over the next few Mondays.
This weeks question: “What do today’s children and teens feel pressured to imitate? Why?”
“Choose your friends wisely, they are what you become.”
I’m not sure where I first heard that quote, but it’s proven itself to be true in my own life. This is true not only of friends, but of family members, colleagues, and even celebrities.
Whenever I stop to think about it, I find it amazing how easily I am influenced. If I spend a few hours with someone with a bad attitude, my attitude starts to tank. While I never lived in the South, a visit below the Mason-Dixon line will leave me with a temporary Southern drawl. It’s not intentional, these things are picked up subconsciously.
Kids imitate those they perceive to be most powerful and respected by others. I do too. Those powerful and respected role models could be anyone from the straight A student, to the playground bully, to celebrity pop stars, and even, on occasion, mom and dad. The pressure to imitate these people is internal rather than external, it’s a survival of the fittest instinct. While kids often intentionally imitate others, just as often, the imitation occurs with no conscious intent at all. We do this without thinking.
So how can we help kids choose better role models? The first step is to help them see where they are imitating others rather than making independent choices. The second step is to encourage them to take a close look at who they are imitating, and decide whether that role model is appropriate for them or not. The third step is to encourage them to determine whether imitation, in this case, is a good idea. Imitation is not always bad, it’s how we learn everything from how to bake bread to how to make friends. However, we need to be conscious of who we are imitating and why. We also need to know when to stop imitating and to blaze our own trails.
Be a good friend and a good influence.
Ten years ago today, Rachel Scott was one of the Columbine High School students murdered in that massacre. Rachel left behind a beautiful legacy. Inspired by her diaries and an essay she wrote shortly before her death, Rachel’s friends and family formed an organization to carry on Rachel’s Challenge to start a chain reaction of good.
Through the course of today, many of us will pause to remember the Columbine tragedy. I encourage you to consider taking this moment to read Rachel’s essay and take Rachel’s Challenge. Understanding how easily people are influenced by each other, remind yourself to be an example of kindness.
- Eliminate Prejudice by looking for the best in others
- Dare to dream – set goals – keep a journal
- Choose your influences – input determines output
- Kind words, small acts of kindness = huge impact
- Start a Chain Reaction with family and friends