How’s your body image?
Are you happy with your wobbly bits? At peace with your wonky nose? Or do you cling to the dream that if only you were a few pounds lighter, a little bit taller, that all would be well with the world?
I wish I could say that I didn’t care about body image, that I was totally happy and accepting of my body, but it would be a fib. Like the majority of women, I too hanker after thinner thighs and tighter triceps. Not enough to actually do anything about it of course, but that’s really not the point, as the issue is clearly not a physical one.
The most worrying thing is the increasingly young age at which body image becomes an issue for girls and young women, as I talked about recently. I say recently… I just looked it up and the post I wrote about conversations overheard on a school bus is nearly two years old! Blimey, unnoticed aging clearly an issue for me here.
There has been a trend recently in the media to try and redress the balance, and change the way we feel about our body image, but to be honest I’m a little cynical. Take the Dove Real Beauty campaign for instance. Now perhaps it’s just me, but aren’t all of these women actually rather attractive? Some of them may be larger than traditional models, but none of them are fat, they’re all well proportioned with smooth skin and pretty faces:
Dove’s latest idea for improving our body image and raising levels of confidence among girls is the Dove Self Esteem Programme, a series of workshops being held in schools throughout the UK, with the aim of reaching a million 11-18 year old girls by the end of 2012. My cynical side says ‘what a great market for them to tap into’ but at the same time I can’t help but think that one million girls feeling even just a little bit better abut themselves has to be a good thing right?
Worryingly, it really is this young that body image starts to become an issue. Dove found that over half of the girls they surveyed thought they were ‘average’, ‘ordinary’, ‘plain’ or ‘unattractive’, and the stats I found when researching my post on pornography are even more shocking:
- Over half of all women around the world say they first became aware of the need to be physically attractive between 6 and 17 years of age.
- 66% of teenage girls would consider plastic surgery and 20% would do it right now.
- Polls suggest that 63% of young women aspire to be glamour models or lap dancers.
- One in three people believe a woman is responsible for violence committed against her if she is wearing ‘revealing clothing’.
Have you seen the Dove ad about all the little girls giving up their hobbies because of their body image? It’s pretty scary stuff:
Further research by Dove celebrates the fact that over a third of girls cite their mothers as their role models. Great, you might think, it’s good that girls have someone real to emulate, but then you look down the rest of the list, and it’s the usual suspects – Cheryl Cole, Jessie J, Rhinanna… And we all know how I feel about Rhianna as a role model. Where are the political figures? The writers? The scientists? Why are young girls so focussed on role models famous purely on the basis of their looks?
Which leads me to my key question – do campaigns like the Dove Real Beauty campaign, or their self-esteem workshops really do anything to tackle issues around body image, or is it a much deeper rooted problem? Are programmes like these just a drop in the multi-million pound ocean that is the beauty industry, or are Dove trailblazers, leading the way for others?
Answers on the back of an anti-wrinkle cream box please.
You can visit the Dove facebook page for more information on their initiatives to improve body image among young women.