Body Image: Time for a New Message
by Tammie Rachell Largent
We’ve long understood that movies, mainstream magazines, and television can damage young girls’ body image by enforcing a “thin ideal.” However, I didn’t discover just how much impact they have until I found a passion for body activism through Ashley Graham.
It was through her talks and further educating myself that one statistic after another kept proving there is clear evidence linking media and social media viewing to body image issues in young women.
Some of the information I stumbled upon was staggering. A study found that 53% of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number grew to 78% by the time they reach 17. Another study in Australia found that seeing thin models in magazines made girls feel they weren’t pretty or thin enough. Another study showed that over 80% of 10-year-old American girls are afraid they are fat, and another found over 30% of 10-14-year-olds are actively dieting.
Dina Borzekowski, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, notes: “Social media has a stronger impact on children’s body image than traditional media. Messages are more targeted and if the message comes from a friend it is perceived as more credible.” She also emphasized that children most at risk are those with more exposure to media messages and less exposure to rational, clear messages from supportive adults.
So how do we, as adults, become that rational, clear voice that overpowers all the other messages young girls are bombarded with? We do it by leading by example.
We stop the shame cycle that comes with not fitting the “perfect” body image the fashion or fitness industry deems worthy.
We tell girls only 5% of the population can obtain the bodies seen in magazines without being Photoshopped.
We celebrate our bodies, our imperfections, and our cellulite.
We radiate confidence by loving who we are, and we foster self-love from a young age.
So, ladies, it is time to give the media a new message.
That message is:
We, as women, love ourselves just as we are.
We love the bodies we stand in!