Facebook is in trouble, once again. This time the social media giant is being blamed for hurting the self-esteem of young girls by allowing them to see posts including beautiful people—you know, those glamorous and perfectly proportioned folks who are so very different from most of us.
Here’s the thing. While I understand that popular social media sites are programmed to make us click until our fingers fall off, can we really blame Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies for making teenage girls feel inadequate? In my humble opinion, no, we cannot.
First let’s hop into the Wayback Machine. In 1959, the Mattel Toy Company unleashed a doll that was, well, perfect. Her dress size, even before such a thing actually appeared on a label, was 0. Her measurements stacked up—and you may take that term literally—to 35-22-32. Classic top-heavy hourglass with an oh-so-tiny waist and long, perfect legs with feet made only for high heels, because flats would never do for a girl like her.
When I was first handed that bubble-headed blonde Barbie, I was a heavy-set elementary school kid, built like an over-stuffed sausage. As a fifth-grader, my dress size exceeded 14, so I was shoved through the doors of Lane Bryant’s, the first department store to cater to plus-size women and girls. My mother was appalled by my physique and told anyone who would listen that I wasn’t fat because of her. She fed me salad with no dressing and baked fish and policed my every move in the kitchen. No, my round shape was NOT HER FAULT!
I do believe my mom gave me that Barbie to give me an example of what I should look like. I remember peeling the clothes off that piece of plastic perfection and studying that breast-waist-hip ratio from every possible angle. After glancing at my naked self in the mirror, it took me an instant to realize that Barbie and I just weren’t going to be friends. I tossed her aside, called my dog, and went to play in the woods.
Barbie, no doubt, had millions of young girls scrutinizing her curves and making unhappy comparisons to their own bodies. So, where was the hue and cry for our self-esteem? How come no one asked if I was depressed comparing myself to a hunk of top-heavy plastic? The doll, which generated gross sales of 1.35 billion dollars in 2020 alone, is today said to be the best-selling toy of all time. Imagine then the number of adolescent girls affected by all those curves over the last seventy-odd years.
I know what you’re thinking. “Geez, Anne, what does this have to do with Facebook and Instagram and all those other social media sites that are upsetting our children?”
Well, I’m saying we should place the blame where it’s due. And that is squarely on the shoulders of parents. It’s Mom and Dad who should make some rules. No cellphone or tablet that has the capacity to go online until kids are 16. Check the social media sites your children are frequenting and shut them down if they’re offensive or disturbing. Keep an eye out for bullying behaviors, overuse of filters, and creeps who are probably not what they’re pretending to be. Then, set an example. Talk to your kids without having your hand on your phone and one eye on the screen. Let them see that electronics are not the center of the universe. And above all talk to your kids about everything so you can nip dangerous behaviors in the bud.
As a former teacher of twenty years, I hope you understand that adults in the classroom are doing their best to deal with personal issues kids face, but we are not their parents. You are. So stop blaming Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Be the adult in the room. Lay down some rules and stick to them.
Your child’s well-being depends on it.
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense
September 13, 2021
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.
In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
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