It’s not long after the holiday decorations have been put away and New Years resolutions committed that we experience a flood of pink and red, hearts and arrows, and more candy than we can handle. Yes friends, it’s Valentine’s Day season. Regardless of your affinity for the holiday, you can’t deny that the tradition has permeated our culture, starting from childhood. Raise your hand if you remember Valentine card swap at school.
Growing up, girls encounter an array of media messages about love and affection — what it looks like and what it means. Unfortunately, many of these messages aren’t very beneficial to youth development nor do they support the development of healthy relationships. You only have to look at some of our beloved sayings, songs, and scenarios to find some seemingly harmless yet potentially problematic definitions of “love.”
Madly/Crazy/Hopelessly in Love
Blinded by Love
You Complete Me
You are My Everything
Love Means Never Having to Say Your Sorry
My World Revolves Around You
I Can’t Live Without You
I’ll Never Let You Go
At Girls Inc., girls learn how to recognize healthy and unhealthy relationships. A healthy relationship is one in which you are respected and valued, feel comfortable expressing and being yourself; where you have the freedom to decide your boundaries, and where you feel safe and secure. The ability to understand what makes for a healthy relationship and to maintain such relationships is critical to every girl’s capacity to build her self-esteem and grow into her fullest potential.
The fact is, the media messages girls consume– whether from television, film, or marketing campaigns, have a profound impact on their social and emotional development. That’s why media literacy is a valuable skill that girls build at Girls Inc. Girls critically examine what they see and hear, decide the value and worth of the messages, and determine how they can make positives changes around them.
Girls need a community of support to grow up healthy and thrive. Talk to the girls in your life about love, respect, and healthy relationships. And be open to what they have to say. Ask them about the messages they receive, and point out harmful attitudes and unhealthy behaviors when you see them onscreen or online.
Together, we can empower girls to discover their own values and make informed decisions about their health, relationships, and futures.
Healthy Relationship Resources for Adults and Youth