I read this article today on the Guardian UK about the influence of modern mis-ideals on girls’ mental health. I was shocked and deeply saddened by the effect our media-&-idealised, appearance driven world is having on girls.
These people are children and teenagers who should be striving for fun, friends, learning, but instead they are made to feel inadequate due to their appearance.
The rise of the internet has changed everything – when I was growing up there was no real way of comparing myself to unrealistic expectations. The women in glossy magazines were so far removed from my daily life that it was fantastical. I had no way of comparing my life to that portrayed by my peers or ‘celebrities’ my age. Yes, I wanted to fit in and I wanted to look a certain way as I became a teenager, but it was influenced by my peers and not by the expectations of large-scale industries and internet celebrity.
Even at the age of just 12 or 13, girls already know that we live in a world where women are judged, first and foremost, not on their abilities or achievements, but how closely they match up to an unrealistic, media-mandated beauty standard. They feel, deeply, that they must strive to emulate the tall, thin, white, large-breasted, long-legged, glossy-haired, perfect-skinned models they see everywhere in adverts and magazines.
This is hideous. Women are not objects. We, as a wider society, should stop teaching girls that these things are all that matter.
The battle, then, starts with us. We have to not only raise our children to value themselves regardless of social standards, but shout even louder to change the modern image of women which is ruining the lives of so many young people.
I’d like to hear your experiences – how do you help your children overcome peer and social pressure? How have you overcome these pressures yourself? What more could we do as body-positive women to change social attitudes?