"Pressurising young people to conform to a certain perceived standard in order to be accepted".
Just as Bad as Social Media Pressure?
The Rose of Tralee competition took part this week and as I listen to the coverage on all of the news and media outlets I cannot help but feel annoyed. Why? Because I feel that events such as this are just as guilty of pressurising young people to conform to a certain perceived standard in order to be accepted and celebrated as the pressures they face online through social media. How different is a competition such as this, where young people are judged and compared, to the judgment experienced online and the pressure to be “insta-ready”, doing amazing things and living amazing lives?
It's All in the Message
In ECEC we strive to build dispositions such as resilience, self-confidence and a strong sense of self. We aim to build an ethos and culture of inclusivity, equality and celebration of diversity in the hope that children learn not to judge and to accept each other. Yet in 2022, I believe that competitive events, such as the Rose of Tralee, perpetuate the message that society will accept you, listen to you and celebrate you if you are a high achiever with the potential to change the world.
Not a Beauty Contest?
Although the Rose of Tralee will deny it is a beauty contest, competitors still have to present themselves all dressed up on a stage in front of a judging panel. So how can we be assured that unconscious biases regarding appearances and perceptions of beauty are eliminated from the judging process?
Celebrate Happiness and Wellbeing Instead!
I do not wish to undermine the success and achievements of the young people who take part in this event, fair play to them. However, surely in today’s society we should be focussing less on societal perceptions of success and instead promoting and celebrating happiness, health and wellbeing? We do not need to add any flame to the fire that is the online pressure that children and young people feel to obtain the body beautiful, have fabulous clothes, go on exotic holidays or indeed to be recognised as high achievers. We need to do more to ensure that our children and young people feel empowered to follow their chosen path in life regardless of where it leads, as long as it leads them to contentment, belonging, happiness and wellbeing.
About the Author:
Paula Walshe is an ECEC trainer and placement assessor in the further education and training sector and a freelance writer. She currently holds a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Education and will complete her studies for a Master’s Degree in Leadership for ECEC in 2022. Paula has extensive ECEC experience in both pedagogical practice and ECEC management. You can learn more about Paula’s work at her website (www.thedigitalearlychildhoodeducator.ie), where she writes a weekly blog on current topics in Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland and provides useful professional and academic resources for students and professionals in this sector. LinkedIn: Paula Walshe / Twitter: @digitalearlyed / Instagram: @digitalearlychildhoodeducator
Paula has co-founded a Twitter community of practice page and podcast @ECEQualityIrl – focussing on sharing ideas and knowledge on all things quality, pedagogy and professional practice in ECEC in Ireland. You can listen to the most recent ECE Quality Ireland podcast here.
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