Girls and Body Image

I had a group of high school girls and boys at my camp last week draw pictures of the ideal woman at the age of 21 years.  I separated the boys and girls for the drawings, and then had each group share their work with the other.  The results should be a wake-up call to anyone who loves kids.

I asked them to describe this woman based on what they had been seeing, hearing, and experiencing  from the culture, media, parents, and friends, not on their personal opinion.  This was about the  conditioning they had been absorbing up until now.

The girls drew a ‘beautiful’ woman with the following characteristics: skinny waist, big boobs, toned butt and legs and abs, straight white teeth, successful and popular, modern styles and trendy, sexy/sexual but not too sexual, and a “lady in the street but a freak in the bed”.  She was between 5’6” to 5’8” tall and weighed between 110-115 pounds.  Yikes!

The boy’s drawing of the ideal 21 year old woman was similar as far as looks goes.  They described her as being 5’7” to 5’9” and weighed between 95-110 pounds.  But their descriptions were different and worrysome: parties a lot, likes expensive things, very made-up, botox on their face, bitchy, has a ‘gap’ between their legs, reasonably large breasts, floozy and easy, and stupid and ditzy.

It’s quite a challenge for teens to overcome all of these unhealthy messages  that form these unrealistic and unhealthy images.  Parents need to have ongoing conversations about these matters, and to help guide kids to become more media-savvy and to question every image they see.

We can’t leave them at the mercy of the media.

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