A lot of girls play dress-up when they're little. It's fun to dress up and pretend to be glamourous. I know when I was little, getting the chance to play around with make-up, high heels and princess dresses was definitely a special thing. However, I don't really remember looking up to anyone in the media and idolizing them. I know that I watched TV, and I wasn't a completely sheltered kid. But I don't remember having the kinds of 'role models' today that many young girls do (like Hannah Montana, etc). For example, I was at Target the other day, checking out, and there were two five year old looking girls with one of their mothers. They were looking at all of the magazines on display and kept screaming, "Ooohh Taylor Swift, I love her, she is so pretty. She is so lucky that she is dating [so-and-so]." All I kept thinking was- how do they know this stuff? Haha. I mean, I watch TV and read up on celebrity gossip from time to time but it just seemed weird to me that they knew so much about Taylor Swift. It just dawned on me how different things are for children who are growing up now, and how much more intense, accessible and available media is for people of all ages.
I guess the concerning thing to me is that when girls this young are exposed to an ideal standard of beauty as dictated by Hollywood, they are shaped from this young age to view beauty as what they see on the covers of magazines. The issue is not that young girls should not think Taylor Swift is beautiful, or that magazines are horrible. I actually love Taylor Swift and think she is a good role model for young girls- she appears to be gracious, hard working, and humble- all things that make one beautiful. The issue to me is that if young girls (as well as women of all ages) are not seeing people of all shapes, sizes and colors, etc, in the media that are regarded as beautiful, then it is likely they will view beauty very narrowly. And, beauty is not just about looks! How many times have you met someone that is physically attractive or beautiful, and then they spoke or acted in such a way that made them unattractive to you? As much as it is a cliche, beauty (in Hollywood) is only skin deep! In a world where already 'beautiful' people are getting plastic surgery to enhance their image, the messages that are sent to women about beauty are not necessarily healthy or positive.
Someone recently shared with me about a really amazing movement going on that is called Operation Beautiful, which aims to help people embrace their beauty. The mission of Operation Beautiful is to end fat talk, which involves talking about weight, lamenting over the width of our thighs (or any other body parts), and comparing ourselves to others! The tag-line on their website is "Ending Fat Talk One Anonymous Post-It At A Time." They encourage people to leave positive, encouraging, anonymous notes in random places- public restroom mirrors in schools, restaurants, etc- to be seen by random people. (An example from their site: When the world says 'give in', stay strong! You are a fighter. You are beautiful. Have a great day!) They encourage people to leave the website address on the note so people can go to the site and find out more about Operation Beautiful. The site is awesome in that people share personal stories about how they have been impacted by an anonymous note, as well as the impact that leaving notes around for people has on them. This is such a great pro-active way to encourage people and to end fat talk. The person who told me about Operation Beautiful leaves anonymous post-it notes in the diet/health section at Barnes and Noble. What a great idea!! The reason I love this so much is that so often it is difficult to know how to do little things that positively impact people in a significant way- and this is an example of something that is super easy to do but that makes a big difference.
For more information on Operation Beautiful, follow this link. And view this video below for more information and to be inspired by what they are doing!