young woman measuring her bustWhenever I overhear young women obsessing over every square inch of their physical appearance, I start to mentally curse Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Victoria's Secret or Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. Grr. How dare these superficial "stars" brainwash young women into thinking that all they have to offer the world are their bodies.

Unfortunately, it seems like the problem isn't isolated in random locker or fitting rooms. It's widespread -- a disease. A new survey of over 1,000 young women 18-25 from the website MyVoucherCodes.co.uk found that almost half would rather have a larger bust than a higher IQ. And about 40 percent would rather be slim than smart

The fact that the year is 2012 and statistics like these exist isn't just alarming or nauseating. It's terrifying.

We should all be afraid -- very, very afraid. To read something like this is to have to swallow a bitter pill that, in many ways, it's as if the women's movement has taken a giant LEAP backward. And worse yet, it appears that far too many really young females are believing that being hot/sexy/beautiful/attractive is more important than being intelligent. Why else would so many in the 18-25 demo be answering this way? It's not like they just decided last night that they'd rather be "hot" than brainy. The idea's been seeping in over time.

It should go without saying that a belief like that is incredibly disenfranchising to women. Thankfully, I really do believe most of us want so much more for our sisters, daughters, granddaughters, for future generations. 

Maybe that's why we can't keep pointing the finger at Paris, Kim, Snooki, Victoria Beckham for selling a damaging image. We have to take responsibility for the problem ourselves, because whether or not we want to admit it, we too are at fault for perpetuating the toxic message. For telling girls they should "watch their weight" (instead of "be healthy, active, eat mindfully/colorfully"), for judging other women's appearances in front of our girls, or even for telling our girl she's so "pretty," "thin," "slim," "svelte," "gorgeous," forgetting she should be hearing how she's smart, funny, witty, interesting, creative, thoughtful, etc.

After all, when faced with scary stats like these, we might want to turn off the TV, hide magazines, cancel cable and Netflix, but we'll never be able to completely shield girls from the sexist spell the media is selling. All we can control is our behavior and the message we're sending ... which should be that brainy is what's beautiful.  

Does this survey scare you, too?