Not Just a Pretty Face or Body

At the group home, we have a quote of the week to inspire the girls. This is one of my favs so far.

photo

It’s easy to get caught up in habitual body monitoring (constantly thinking about what you look like to others) since we live in a world surrounded by a media that says we as a person are defined by our appearance. How dumb is that? That is why I especially like this quote. It’s a reminder of how who you are should not be defined by what you look like.

As women, we frequently body monitor ourselves. Caroline Heldman, assistant professor of Politics at Occidental College, referenced studies saying that, within a 5 minute time frame, on average, women will have monitored their body ten times. What do I look like right now? Is the lighting making me look bad? If i sit like this, does my stomach look fat? These thoughts are not only usually self deprecating, (studies point out that from self-objectifying and habitual body monitoring, women experience far more depression and anxiety) but these thoughts are also a waste of time and a waste of mental energy. If we spent as much time thinking about creative endeavors, or thoughts and activities that will bring us joy as we do worrying about what we look like, our lives would not only be happier but more productive.

One of the girls at the home the other day admitted that she is very concerned about having a pimple here and there or not looking perfect because she’s afraid a boy won’t be attracted to her if she doesn’t look perfect. I reminded her that if a boy wants her to look perfect then he’s probably a jerk and not worth her time. She then mentioned that she wants to look like girls in magazines. A lot of girls/women are consciously or unconsciously thinking this, but not saying it aloud, and here it was laid out on the table. I thought “Ooo! Here’s and opportunity to educate and empower her!” So I said “Well, ya know, not even the girls in the magazines look like the girls in the magazines.” And we talked about photoshopping, which she knew a little about, but hadn’t thought about it much.

I’d like to show the girls this video sometime:

Or this one:

Most of us consider photoshopping an old concept but if you think about it, it’s really messed up that this still exists and that we’re used to it. “Oh yeah, but real people don’t look like that.” So why are people in the media allowed to present fantasy as reality when we all end up pretty damaged by it? It’s wrong that we are still surrounded by such unachievable standards of beauty. Isn’t it crazy we tolerate it?

One eighth grader did not tolerate it and she created a petition to get 17 Magazine to print one unaltered photo spread a month and guess what? The magazine responded with a pledge to not just do one a month, but to not ever alter their models with photoshop.

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