Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Girl in the Mirror

This postcard has lived on my fridge for 15 years

For many of us, looking in the mirror is not always the happiest of exercises.

After all, who doesn't want to lose a little weight, get a better hair style or get rid of those bags under their eyes?

But for teenage girls, that mirror can be particularly brutal in a society that sets standards of beauty that many super-models struggle to meet.

Sure, America has an obesity problem, but we should always be cautious to be sure that the cure is not worse than the disease.

Consider these stats from the Teen Futures Media Network, College of Education, University of Washington.:
Is this really the image we want teen girls to emulate?

  • In a survey of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40 percent have tried to lose weight, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
  • In a study on fifth graders, 10 year old girls and boys told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from the TV show "Friends".
  • One study reports that at age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. 
As if being a teenager was not hard enough, now we place impossible expectations on bodies that are changing at the biological speed of sound.

But fear not, it's the YWCA Tri-County Area's Girl Talk Series to the rescue.

This Saturday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., the next installment in the series, "Body Image and Self-Esteem" will be held at the YW, 315 King St. in Pottstown.

The event is free, with a reservation which can be made by calling 610-323-1888.

"Imagine starting your day facing just one of these challenges: depression, an eating disorder, relentless unrealistic and hyper-sexualized media images, mean girl tactics at school and on-lone, or a boyfriend who belittles you," reads the flyer from the YWCA.

"Yet for our teen girls, these are just some of many issues confronting them every day, taking a toll on their confidence, self-esteem and physical health."

"The workshop offers a safe, girls-only environment to make connections, embrace who they are and talk about issues important to them," according to the flyer said.

"The goal is for girls to take away information and resources to give them a strong foundation and the tools to develop into empowered, confident young women."

That seems like a goal that no one should argue with.

In addition to this, there are four more talks in the YWCA's "Girl Talk" series.

  • On May 19: "Non-Traditional Careers."
  • On July 28: "Cyber Bullying and Stalking."
  • On September 22: "Go Green."
  • On November 10: "Advocacy."

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