Recent statistics for United States are very scary indicating that body image issues are occurring earlier and earlier in our children:
42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. Many of them rated being fat scarier than death.
51% of 9 and 10 year old girl feel better about themselves if they are on a diet
46% of 9-11 year olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
Americans spend over $50 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year
We need to help young girls combat the messages that advertising and media present. Five ways to combat the negative messages.
- Educate them on unrealistic images portrayed in the media. Even models or actors are not considered beautiful or thin enough, requiring hours of photoshop to make them the “ideal” and totally unobtainable. Here is a “Real Beauty” commercial from Dove: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U
- Educate girls about their health, puberty and do activities to increase self- esteem. http://www.girlshealth.gov/index.cfm (Recommend viewing the site first to make sure it is appropriate for your child and values).
- A great book that is full of ideas and resources: 101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body By Brenda Lane Richardson and Elane Rehr.
- Research shows that a girl’s relationship with her father (or important male figure) greatly impacts body image. A great website for dads to improve their relationship and become aware of statements/actions that could impact body image is http://www.thedadman.com/dadsanddaughters
- As parents, we need to educate ourselves more about how advertisers are targeting and affecting our children. Jean Kilbourne is a national speaker on this issue. She has created a video called “Killing Us Softly,”that shows images from the media and then the underlying messages.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ujySz-_NFQ (Warning: Some of the images in the video are disturbing, especially when they are shown one after another. The video is for a mature audience, view prior to showing it to your teenager).
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