Our culture values beauty. Beautiful people have an advantage. Beauty does not alway equate to kindness, and I firmly believe inner beauty can shine out and make anyone more beautiful.
That being said, we live in a culture where our teenage girls (and younger) are bombarded with fake images of beauty. We are too.
There’s been a lot of videos circulating lately that show the before and after photos of celebrities. It is important we watch these videos with our girls (and boys) and discuss them. Why do we feel the need to view artificial beauty?
The statistics are scary. Even with discussion, the constant bombardment of fake “perfection” has its toll on our self-image. According to Teen Health and the Media:
Media’s Effect on Body Image
The popular media (television, movies, magazines, etc.) have, since World War II, increasingly held up a thinner and thinner body image as the ideal for women.
In a survey of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40% have tried to lose weight, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
In a study on fifth graders, 10 year old girls and boys told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from the TV show “Friends”.
A 1996 study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soaps, movies and music videos is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin.
One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.
My daughter knows Marilyn Monroe is considered the most beautiful woman to have lived. She knows that today people would think she was fat. She didn’t learn this from me. That does not mean she is immune.
When I was a teenager, we knew photos were airbrushed, but it didn’t stop us from aspiring to perfection. Photoshop takes it to a whole new level.
My daughter wears makeup. She is beautiful and does not need it, but I also experimented with makeup at that age too, so I give her that freedom. What bugs me is the use of foundational powders. She already has perfect skin. Why does she feel the need to apply a layer of artificial? When I ask, she says I do not understand. Clearly.
I’ve noticed young girls wearing push up, padded bras that make them look like they have breasts beyond their age or body type. To me, they look obvious and silly. I fear it will lead these girls to want boob jobs.
We need to accept our bodies for what they are. If you are tall and thin, then yes, you will not have big boobs naturally. It’s not proportional.
Shopping for bras with my daughter, I was astounded at the dominance of thickly padded wire bras in small sizes. We even saw one in a 5T! Really…what preschooler needs such a bra? My daughter was equally shocked.
I am deeply concerned about what we are doing to the youth today and their body image/acceptance. We are the fattest country in the US. Look around…do you see anyone on the street that matches the perfection found in photoshop images?
I know better, and I am scarred from perceptions of body image from my youth and current society. When I am on the upper end of my weight fluctuation, it depresses me. I don’t like my clothes fitting snugly. I feel more self-conscious. I am working on it, especially not commenting about it in front of my daughter.
Sitting on the beach in Cancun a few weeks ago, I watched many people walk by in bikinis and swim shorts. Instead of picking apart their imperfections, which was my training as a teenager, I began to see the beauty of each body. I was struck by the beauty of all the shapes and sizes and was thankful for them.
Things have changed a lot since I was entering those transitional years from child to adult, and my hopes are my daughter continues to do it with grace and awareness.
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