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

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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