I am completely amazed at today’s youth and their ability to be strong enough personally to stand up for the things that they believe in. Recently, a teenage girl from a nearby small town, Waterville, Maine started a petition to request that Seventeen Magazine devote one full-page to real girl images. First of all, thank you, and secondly, why didn’t I think of that?
So why does this speak to me? I am a mom with three young daughters, ages 11, 10, and 5. My oldest daughter, CJ is the one we are most concerned about in reference to body images. She is into the latest fashion trends at school and wants to wear makeup. At only 11, CJ stands about 5’3”, has long legs and a trim figure. She is involved in chorus, a flyer on her cheer squad, and is a blue belt in karate. She wants to wear the short shorts, off the shoulder shirts and spaghetti strap tanks. Her father and I have near-daily arguments about wardrobe choices. She is beautiful, and I have seen boys and grown men ogling my daughter. Sure, that makes me comfortable …actually I really just want to pop someone instead and say, "This is my daughter! Back off!!"
I completely understand the need for presenting the latest trends in fashion and everything teenager in today’s media. But why can’t it just be “kewl” to be real? Let’s be real here, healthy weight is good, overweight is not, and neither is supermodel skinny. I’m pretty sure the majority of people would agree with this concept. Maybe it doesn’t sell, but why promote “sexy youth”? Seriously? Don’t these magazine staffers realize these girls are someone’s daughters, granddaughters, or nieces? How about for once, let’s be uber trendy and show what real girls look like? Perfect bodies are not reality. I’m not saying lets cover them up like we’re going into a blizzard either, but happy mediums are good. No, wait, they’re great!
I love my daughter's sense of style (sans short shorts, and off the shoulder shirts). Yes, her father and I have purchased most of them, with instructions to wear them appropriately. I know, I know, epic fail. Her style is a cross between stylish and athletic, with a little hint of funky added in. My hubby works at a retail clothing chain which sells clothes specifically to her demographic. Talk about perfect for her, right? While she does not read Seventeen Magazine, or any other teen-devoted magazine, she is online. CJ watches endless videos, on YouTube mostly, hoping to make her own big break into the music scene someday. She gets her fashion sense from her father’s employer, friends at school, YouTube, and other web-related media.
And now onto Facebook and my love/hate relationship with it. I have a page and log on multiple times per day; I love it, but at the same time hate it for its addicting nature. Per Facebook rules, having a page at age 11 is not permitted, so she does not, and will not have one until she turns 13, nor will her sisters. Not that it stops people; as several family members and her friends already have a Facebook profile. It makes me cringe when I see younger family members and friends post, “Like this status for a rate”. Seriously kids, and parents of said kids, it’s just wrong. Kids are not movies or books; they are people with real feelings so let us not objectify them otherwise. And really, what is with the bathroom poses. They are not sexy, regardless of your age.
Next is eating habits ... CJ has come home a few times with her entire lunch still in her bag. We impress upon her the importance of fueling her body; not just for health purposes, but for the fact that she and her sister attend karate classes at least five or six times per week. They work out! (Insert LMFAO tune.) She needs to be able to fuel her brain and her body. CJ does not verbally obsess about her weight, but at her last doctor’s appointment, I specifically asked the doctor to talk to her about her height and weight. Thankfully she made it clear that CJ is perfectly healthy, but did that really work? I’m not so sure, and really, how does one try to convince a pre-teen/teen that super skinny is super unhealthy when everything around them says otherwise.
It scares me that there are so many pressures upon young girls to be beautiful, and thin, and wear the right clothes, and eat next to nothing. We cannot seriously want to teach our daughters these things. Being beautiful inside is the important piece; sure it’s great to feel pretty, but let’s be pretty inside and out. I hope that more parents, teens, and pre-teens will get involved and although devoting one page at-a-time to real beauty won’t solve the world’s problems, it’s a start. So, mad props to Julia Bluhm of Waterville, Maine for starting this petition. You make your hometown, (and those nearby) and your state proud girl! My hope is eventually that all mediums, not just magazines take a look at the big picture and use real, untouched ones.