February 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm
by Rosalind Wiseman
I’m always looking for ways to trigger adults into feeling what it’s like to be bullied walking the halls of school, eating in the cafeteria, sitting on the school bus, or having an embarrassing picture taken of you and texted to everyone you know. Why do I want parents to remember their painful school moments? Because if we don’t, we can’t relate to our kids.
Well, strangely enough I recently found a great example in this year’s GEICO Superbowl commercial. It’s a brilliant way to make adults remember the feeling of insecurity and self-consciousness so normal to adolescence. But it’s even better because it’s not asking the adult to remember what it was like when they were young. It’s way better than that. It shows how powerful mean girls are over an adult now.
The ad begins with the man acknowledging that the most powerful diet motivator there is, better than any expensive diet plan, is hiring three mean middle school girls to make sure he sticks with his diet. He completely admits that these diet police, with their cutting comments and spontaneous picture taking, will force him to stay in line.
This thirty-second ad delivers a message any adult should get; the man crumbles under the mean girl scrutiny like everyone else does. Everyone is equal under the domination of mean girls, even middle aged men.
Watch this with your kids and feel free to laugh. It’s funny precisely because we recognize the truth of the situation. We feel for the guy. Then after the laughs, ask your kids why do those girls have so much power? How exactly are they undermining him? Some Queen Bees I know would say that those girls are doing that guy a favor because they are pressuring him to stop having bad habits. But it’s persuasion based on shame and constant belittling. Is it right to shame someone into improving themselves? (By the way, that’s a great parenting question too)
Even better, get a girl to watch it with her dad and she can ask him what he’d do if he had three teen girls making snarky comments every time he ate? Would he be embarrassed to admit that these girls were getting under his skin? When he was a kid did he know someone who could make him feel insecure like that?
If you can, post any comments below from your conversations! I am looking forward to what you all have to say!