The World Favors Pretty Girls & Moms Need to Tell Their Daughters Now

Rant 22

barbieWe've come a long way -- sort of. No matter what a woman accomplishes in life, one self-esteem obliterating thought will always pop into her mind: Am I pretty enough?

And it's a question we start asking ourselves way too early. Research says our body image is in the gutter a decade before we are even worried about who will ask us to the senior prom.

Miss Representation, along with SPARK, and I Am That Girl compiled a bunch of sad, if not exactly shocking facts about how young girls see themselves. Among them:

80% of 10-year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. They number one magic wish for your girls age 11-17 is to be thinner.

53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number increases to 78% by age 17.

32% of teenage girls admit to starving themselves to lose weight.

Tragic but nothing new. These problems go back centuries, not decades. Every girl has felt fat one time in her life whether she was or not.

Of course the blame is always placed on the media. Airbrushed photos in fashion magazines and stick thin stars present an image most of us will never, ever get close to even though we desperately try. But I say parents are part of the problem too.

We need to be more upfront with our daughter. When they are little, we try to shield them, saying "It's what's inside that matters most." Yea, when you are five. But what about when they hit junior high? For most of their lives, our girls will be judged by what they look like. Yes, pretty, thin women have always had an advantage.  They have always gotten perks dowdy girls don't. 

Of course we should tell them it's wrong, but it's reality. At the same time, I say let's point out all the plastic surgery these stars have had. Tell our girls no one who eats a normal, healthy diet could ever look that way. But also reinforce that all that beauty means nothing without brains -- and a good heart too. This won't necessarily change the fact that girls will envy those A-list beauties, but at least early on they will know that the whole culture of beauty is unrealistic and unfair.

Do you think parents should talk to their young girls about body image?

Image via BarbieFantasies/Flickr



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Laura Jerpseth

Thin does not necessarily translate into pretty. 

Laura Jerpseth

The title is misleading, in my opinion. The author presents no evidence that the world "favors" "pretty" girls. 

NatAndCo NatAndCo

I think its a necessity to talk to young girls about this. I was shocked to see my 12yr old cousin and her friends discussing all the food they were eating (or not eating) and how fat they are. She is a skinny little thing already, so its worrisome to think that she actually feels the need to lose weight.

On the flip side, I think its important to support girls if they feel they want to lose weight and try to teach them a healthy way to do it.

jodie... jodieharp

The anorexic standard of beauty has not existed for centuries.  Especially in times where starvation was common, big girls were considered beautiful because of the status their weight suggested.  And even then it's not like any body dismorphia was a widespread epidemic, there was no media to constantly suggest to girls and women that they didn't meet the standard. 

That being said, parents should definitely talk to their girls about body image.  And explain to them that while they may see one image as being the "most beautiful" that it is in fact not the ONLY way to be beautiful.  They need to highlight their daughters' best features and remind her that her physical beauty can never compare to how beautiful she is inside, which is what matters most.  I mean, come on, Kim Kardashian is one of the most beautiful women on the planet but I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with her because she's ugly on the inside. 

tonip... toniperoni

I don't agree with you - sure in high school and reality tv the pretty girls get the perks. Coming from a country that has had two female prime ministers I have a different experience. What your advocating perpetuates the status quo. Girls need to be taught that beauty fades and they'll be left empty and under loved if they focus on their looks to the detriment of their personality or inteligence. Hollywood is full of examples of lovely strong women who aren't everyone's ideal of beauty - if you can't be bothered looking into the real world for role models.

Your job is not to prepare your daughter to be disappointed or hope to be a pretty girl at school but to give her a high enough self esteem so that she doesn't need validation of her looks from her peers - sounds like mommy is the one that needs to grow up

nonmember avatar Ali

some parents are definitely to blame due to the fact that these girls who hate themselves turn into women who hate themselves and then they have daughters and show their daughters a perfect live representation of how to hate their own bodies. I remember I went to prom junior and senior year because of an older boyfriend and my mom told me she would not buy me a new dress and suggested I get on the exercise bike and only eat cheese cubes until the dress zipped. I was an athletic healthy relatively thin girl. The dress was a zero and I had become a two when my body started to mature. People need to stop pointing fingers at celebrities and start becoming better examples in their own homes. Even if a mom doesnt verbalize her body image issues, the simple fact of neglecting their own physical being and never glorifying the little things that make them beautiful teaches their daughters not to be able to spot the little things about them that they as an individual can enhance to make them feel special in their own beauty. so moms everywhere, do your hair, put on your makeup, and act like you feel pretty if you really want your daughters to be able to overcome this issue.

jessi... jessicasmom1

barbie is so fake ....... I would never let my daughter worry like that to be her

Pinst... Pinstripes4

Then there is the adage that while beauty fades for women, men grow more distinguished. It is a social construction that is the foundation of an entire industry that touts masks and serums and creams to preserve precious youth, because experience showing on a woman's face is undesirable. Fine lines and wrinkles could mean wisdom and a lived life for women, but it instead is a depreciation of their value.

Pinst... Pinstripes4

I hate being a girl sometimes.

zombi... zombiemommy916

I just don't understand what "pretty" has to do with weight? When I hear "pretty", I think "face", not body...and my kids get that, most likely because I'M definitely not skinny...but I have been honest with my daughter about self-image and why it's easier for a fortunate few...I won't get preachy about it because things will NEVER change...

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