Friday, October 30, 2015

     Much is being written about young girls and body image. In my day, moms looked like moms, that is, except my mom. My mom was all about glamour, but not the ideal body image of today. My mom was about looking like a lady and having a figure that was healthy-looking and curvy. I remember her saying, “You have to have some curves, or you will look like a boy.” Twiggy didn’t see it that way, and I saw Twiggy as my role model. Between my mom teaching the “walk tall and look feminine” and  Twiggy’s example as a string bean, I got one message:  Don’t be fat. Look like a model, or you are fat. Unfortunately, that was the advice I followed, the advice I modeled for my own daughters, and the words that haunt me to this day—sixty years later. There were no reassuring words about “inner beauty,” “healthy eating” or safe exercising. It was all about starving yourself so you could look “thin,” and therefore be “beautiful.”  I find it hard to believe that sixty years later, young girls are still struggling with this concept. Is that possible? It is also interesting to note that no prescriptions were ever discussed about boys’ body image or men’s appearance.

     I have a much healthier attitude about weight and body image, but I can honestly say I still watch what I eat, I work out every single day and I label food in my mind (fat food, poison food, water-retaining food, etc.). My two daughters have much healthier attitudes about eating and exercise, and one of them even specializes in eating disorder therapy as a licensed Social Worker. The other daughter works out with a trainer and eats healthy, even including protein shakes in her diet. This is not to say that we don’t indulge in an occasional Christy home-made chocolate chip cookie or a sinful Diet Coke at times. Generally, however, we know the drill, and we follow it.

     I have great respect for stars like Kate Winslet who recognize their important roles as models for young girls. Photoshopping has created a “perfectionism” that is impossible for anyone to imitate. When people in the limelight give us a healthy prescription for what true beauty really is, fewer young women will think of themselves as “less than.”

    Thank you, Chris, for bringing this to my attention, and thank you, Kate Winslet, for setting the trend for natural beauty.

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October 26 at 4:52pm · Edited ·
Kudos to Kate Winslet for taking a stand against the unrealistic beauty standards being fostered by the widespread use of photoshopped images in magazines and advertisements! At the Elle Women in Hollywood event last week, the Academy Award-winning actress announced that she has added a 'no retouch' clause to her advertising contract with L'Oréal. In discussing the decision with E! News, Winslet explained, "I do think we have a responsibility to the younger generation of women. I think they do look to magazines, I think they do look to women who have been successful in their chosen careers and they want people to look up to, and I would always want to be telling the truth about who I am to that generation because they've got to have strong leaders. We're all responsible for raising strong young women, so these are things that are important to me."
Winslet has long been critical of the excessive photoshopping of images due to the detrimental effect it can have on the self-esteem of girls and women. In a 2009 interview with Harper's Bazaar, she shared that she would ask that photos to be returned to their original state after she viewed the retouched versions: "I have wrinkles here, which are very evident. And I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, ‘You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please can you change it back?’ I'd rather be the woman they're saying 'She's looking older' about than 'She's looking stoned.'”
With 46% of 9-year-old girls 'sometimes' or 'very often' on diets, girls' self-esteem peaking at age 9 and 80% of girls reporting being afraid of becoming fat by age 10, fostering a healthy self-image is a big priority for many parents of Mighty Girls. To help make it easier, we've compiled an extensive collection of excellent books on body image for girls from toddlers to teens and their parents in our "Body Image" section at http://amgrl.co/1Lk7t4W
For a few of our favorite self-esteem boosting books about the importance of loving yourself, check out "I Like Myself" for ages 3 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/i-like-myself), "A Smart Girl's Guide to Liking Herself, Even on the Bad Days" for ages 9 to 12 (http://www.amightygirl.com/a-smart-girl-s-guide-to-liking-h…), and "The Body Image Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help Girls Develop a Healthy Body Image in an Image-Obsessed World" for ages 13+ (http://www.amightygirl.com/body-image-workbook).
And, for books for parents that address body image issues, including the helpful guide "101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body," visit our "Body Image & Self-Esteem" parenting section at http://www.amightygirl.com/parenting/body-image-self-esteem