It’s been a year since the launch of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It. The book, based on 10 years of my own research, was born out of my dissertation at Tufts University and morphed into over 200 interviews of girls and women around the US who told me their personal story about weight, body image, struggles and triumphs. The video was born out of the book and was launched on October 5, 2010.
As I just spoke to a room full of Girl Scout leaders for the Power of Popular conference this past Sunday on this topic, I had to wonder, are things getting better or worse?
Well, perhaps it’s a bit of both. I still talk to girls and women on a weekly basis who are struggling to accept themselves as they are. Sometimes it’s more formal, like in a speaking setting or in a coaching session. Other times, it’s very casual– reiterating that the body bully within, as I call it, it alive, well, and sabotaging the well being of our girls. In fact, I just walked into a store on Saturday to get some moisturizer for my face when one of the young women who worked there started talking about hating her body, feeling fat, and not being happy…with herself…because of it.
And that’s representative. It still is true that the majority of girls and women wish they looked different than they did. So much so, that when I presented the statistic from my book that 95% of girls between the ages of 16-21 want to change something about their bodies, someone shouted out from the audience, “Really? Only 95%?”
And that kind of reaction isn’t that surprising, is it? Photos of incredibly thin women are still rampant in fashion magazines. Girls are still valued or devalued based on their looks, dismembered part by part, sexualized, objectified, dumbed down, and “perfected” by the media that is supposed to be a glorified, fantasized reflection of actual society. This year we’ve seen the likes of push up bikinis for 7 year olds, 10 year old models in women’s Vogue dressed, styled and positioned as an adult, 4 year olds in “loungerie,” and a recent glorified Halloween costume that incited collective anger due to its depiction of “Ana-rexia” as a “sexy” personified illness. There are many more, of course, as Toddlers & Tiaras has become more mainstream and more people feel the need to push the envelope even if it means compromising our girls.
As I listened to the frustrated and shocked expressions of the Girl Scout leaders in the audience this weekend, I knew they were hungry for solutions. They knew the girls who we spoke of from my book– they themselves brought up girls who were having the same issues.
Thankfully, there seem to be more and more people working on behalf of girls to help them receive positive messaging about themselves and their bodies. As this is one of the solutions I talk about in my presentations, I find it really exciting to see that solution in action.
In my book, in chapter 9, I provide my Big Black Book of amazing organizations, websites, books, and people who are doing something to make the lives of girls better. Next Thursday, October 13th, at 9pm EST, I’ll be co-leading our second #SaveGirlhood twitter party (see details about our first here) with several of these amazing people. More details to come! But just to get your thoughts going, we’ll be talking about Halloween costumes, our girls, body image, self esteem, and overall effects of sexualization and self objectification. Hope you’ll be there! I will be joined by my distinguished colleagues; Nancy Gruver of New Moon Girls Magazine, Audrey Brashich- of All Made Up, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals, and Amy Harman, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
You’ll want to follow our faithful crew who will be leading the discussion: @PigtailPals, @BeABetterWoman, @AudreyBrashich, @DrRobyn, and @Nancy_Newmoon.
Again, more details to come.
I know that what’s being thrown at girls can seem so overwhelming. Let’s discuss it. There are solutions out there– and I feel so blessed that I get to work and grow along side some of them!
Please let me know what you think of the video above and what struck you about weight obsession, body image, and asset development in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat.
Wishing you an awesome day!