#BeautyBias. What Can We Do About It
Maybe you've heard this story. A young girl posts a poll on social media (question of live and death) and commits suicide a few hours later. And maybe you don't care. But if you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, human, you probably should. As a matter of fact, in the past decade, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of teens attempting to kill themselves with poison. This data appeared this month (May, 2019) in The Journal of Pediatrics, and comes from poison control centers. Overall, the study finds the rate of poisoning attempts more than doubled among boys and girls. Girls, however, account for most of the rise. The study finds poisoning attempts by girls ages 10 to 12 increased 268 percent from 2010 to 2017. For girls ages 13 to 15, the poisoning rate increased 143 percent. Overall, it’s estimated that in 2018, close to 60,000 girls ages 10 to 18 tried to poison themselves. In 2008, that figure was closer to 30,000.
Why am I even writing this article? Here's why. My daughter enters puberty. She will soon be exposed (actually, she already is) to all the images in magazines, on social media, in marketing campaigns, billboards and so on. What is the image she will see? A white female, probably in her twenties with fair skin, no freckles, done hair, slim, beautifully dressed. Correct me if I am wrong but she will surely think this is what she SHOULD look like.
A Dove campaign, centered on body positivity, cites these numbers:
Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful
Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as ‘beautiful’
72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful
So what can a mother do about it? How can we teach our kids (girls or boys) or even ourselves that it is OK to be different? That it is OK to be fat, slim, to have stretchmarks, to have green hair, if that is what you want to be?
Tips For Body Positivity
1.Would I say that to a friend? Would you say to your best friend: 'Gosh, you're so fat and look at those stretch marks, yikes!' No you wouldn't.
2. Don't judge. Yes, I'm still struggling with this one - work in progress - as I like to go out with my makeup on. But don't judge other people just because they decide to pick up their kids in jogging trousers.
3. Stop weighting yourself. My scale stopped working years ago. Never got a new one. If I can't put on my summer shorts, I might consider eating less carbs. And I might not.
4. Exercise and encourage your kids to exercise as well but don't overdo it. Exercise is a wonderful way to improve mood, get your daily dose of Vitamin D (if you're exercising outside), helps to increase muscle mass and it has numerous other benefits. But don't exercise just to get in shape for bikini.
5. Surround yourself with positive people. Having a friend who's complaining all the time? Maybe it's not the best friend anyway.
6. Don't give a f..k: Obvious, when you sit on a plane with four kids. I've learned to not give a sh.t about what other people say a long time ago. Or imagine everyone around you in their underwear. It might just do the trick.
7. Being grateful. Every evening, I tell myself (and my hubby) how wonderful it is that we can sleep in a warm, dry room with a roof over our head. Remember that many people on this planet don't take it for granted.
8. Become a critical viewer of social media. In my opinion, kids younger than 13 should not have access to social media (and no phone for that matter). Do you know how many times you have to crop and put a filter on a picture to stand out? A lot of times! Social media tend to show you a world like it is all rainbows and unicorns. It isn't.
9.Practice self care. There are many morning or evening rituals you can do to pamper yourself. Check out this video.
10.Have a hobby or get a dog (or a cat, or a rat). Practicing some fun activity will help you to focus your attention on something you like in place of being constantly drawn to other people's lives on social media.
Body positivity is not a new trend. We women were cherished and nurtured for millennia because we have the wonderful power to give life. Remember that every time you see your little girl and when you see yourself in the mirror.