The tween girl sits with a fashion magazine in her lap, her hair covering her bare chest. In her left hand is a large pair of scissors ready to cut into a swath of belly skin gripped in the girl’s right hand.
It hurts to look at that photo that a friend shared this week on Facebook. Of course, it generated comments. The consensus: Today’s girls, as young as elementary age, endure the pressure to look thin and glamorous, and there’s more to a girl’s life than the pressure to look and be perfect.
A day later, another friend shared an image of a young girl standing on a scale, back to the camera and holding a Barbie doll in her right hand. More Barbie dolls sit on the floor around the scale. A quote from designer Rae Smith fills the picture: “I refuse to let my someday daughter grow up in a world that values her body over her mind. This change starts with me.”
The latter photo came from a FB Page called “A Mighty Girl,” which according to its “about” information, is “the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls.” Its website is www.amightygirl.com, and it does have quite a good amount of positive books for girls of all ages.
Being the mother of an elementary-age daughter and recalling my own struggles with body image as a young girl, these poignant images stuck with me. It’s a shame that little ones think that they have to look like models in magazines or the Hollywood elite seen on TV and the Internet. Or to have to hear a girl as young as 6 say, “I need to go on a diet.”
Sure, I’m all for promoting an active lifestyle. Healthy eating sometimes eludes us, but it is overall encouraged. A healthy body is essential, but so is a healthy, intellectual mind. The world has seen many bright, smart and beautiful women contribute a lot of good to society.
I encourage my daughter to study hard and put forth her best in all of her activities, from play to dance. As girls grow and mature, their minds and bodies change, and with the encouragement of parents, relatives, teachers and other good role models, they will hopefully change for the best.