I was at the mall this weekend, doing some shopping and I happened to notice that the entire side of the wall lining the escalator was advertising a new FDA approved non-surgical type of liposuction. There was a life-size picture of a very thin woman's lower-body in jeans, with her bare stomach exposed. My first thought- UGH, really?? So wrong. Is that really necessary?? My second thought- of course there is a huge ad about liposuction that is in plain view for everyone walking around the mall to see-- it is a commentary on our culture and a reflection of what society values. It made me sad. How do we expect and encourage young girls (and young boys), as well as adults (!!) to have healthy body image and a healthy view of what is beautiful if we are being bombarded by images and messages like this?
It kind of provides some context for some recent statistics regarding teenage girls and their eating habits. According to a recent poll, one in ten girls aged 14 and 15 are skipping both breakfast and lunch. For those of you who are math challenged like me, that is ten percent of girls!!! Most of the girls surveyed believed that they were overweight, even if they were not. Amongst a younger set of girls, aged 10 and 11, 40 percent believe they need to lose weight. 10 year olds should be riding their bikes and playing with their friends, enjoying life- NOT spending time loathing their bodies, or thinking that they need to lose weight. To read more about the results of this poll, follow THIS link.
Regardless of our age, when we repeatedly receive messages and see images about what our bodies should look like, we begin to think that we need to conform in order to be beautiful and accepted. This (of course) is a lie- however, young girls are seeing these images and taking in these messages being communicated and are reacting in ways that are not healthy. This is why there is such a need for prevention, as well as change!! This is what makes DOVE's Campaign for Real Beauty (click here to read more on that) such a great effort to help young girls build confidence and self-esteem and healthy body image. It is so important to be able to recognize the lies that we see and call them out as such. Whether you are a parent, a friend, a boyfriend/husband, have a conversation about these images, messages, advertisements, etc. with your daughter, friend, girlfriend/wife when you see or hear them. To act as if they are okay or normal is to perpetuate the cycle. We cannot control the messages that we receive, but we can control how we respond; to respond by challenging them and not believing lies is tough, but so crucial if we want to live the life of freedom that God has intended for us.