Wednesday, March 4, 2009

American girl

There are a handful of "milestones" that our society suggests girls will experience during their teenage years: her first kiss, her first boyfriend, her first job, her first car.

It is through all of those events that she will ease into responsible, with her family and long-established friends there to pick her up when she makes mistakes

And she will better for it in the future, with all the lessons learn from her experiences. She will be forced to learn more about herself (and what boys to avoid), how to be more independent (and aware of the true value of money) and how she could gain parents trust (so her curfew could be a little later).

But, this time line of typical teenage lessons seems a little too good to be true.

And it is.

Some people surmise it is the result of puberty, while others believe it is because of American pop culture.

Either way, it is during a girl's teenage years, and sometimes even earlier, that she begins to question her body image.

And it is hard to blame her; magazines, television and movies all feed girls images of extremely thin models and women, labeling them as the norm and standard of beauty. A girl's perception of her body changes, focusing on areas that culture tells her defines her self and societal worth (i.e. flat stomach, busty chest).

It is the repetition of these images that begin to breakdown self-confidence. Size-2 becomes the norm, and the constant bombardment of actresses and models whom fit that mold acts as a constant reminder of how she is not that size and that she need to do something if she ever wants to be truly happy and successful, especially in love.

And for a lot of girls, size-2 is not even an option; their bodies anatomically will never fit into a pair of size-2 jeans, even if they were to starve themselves to death. Some girls find out the hard way.

It is a common misconception that skinny equals healthy. Many of the thin girls on the screen or on magazine spreads do not achieve that physique by healthy practices, but by fasting, purging and extreme diets.

That is not to say all lean girls starve themselves; some girls naturally have fast metabolisms. But the dangerous skinny ideal portrayed in entertainment (i.e. skeletal) is not attained by healthy eating habits.

I think distorted body image has just become another standard to a teenage girl's life. It is not to suggest a girl is weaker or has lower self-worth because she falls victim to it. I think body image issues are a side effect of living in our American society and being exposed to American pop culture.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot more time for girls to learn, break-away, from body image issues, if ever, compared to the lessons learned from a girl's first boy, car or job.

Maybe it just takes a little more mind over matter. And a little more help from intimate world around women.

Here's a little refresher of what real women, and men, look like:
click the picture to open the site
Of course, it's a german website.


Melanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melanie said...

jesus!! lohan looks terrible!!!! :( wonderful writing though, paigey.

Kate said...

i'm so glad you wrote about this... you put it perfectly. i can't believe that picture of her!!!