In today’s culture, women are constantly bombarded with what are considered “beautiful women”. Billboards, TV shows, movies, magazine ads, commercials, etc., etc., etc.. These images, so frequent, so “normal”, are dictating what is “beautiful” in today’s society. The trouble is…
Only a very small percentage of women in Western countries meet the criteria the media uses to define “beautiful” (Dittmar & Howard, 2004; Thompson & Stice, 2001); yet so many women are repeatedly exposed to media images that send the message that a woman is not acceptable and attractive if she do not match society’s “ultra-thin” standard of beauty (Dittmar & Howard, 2004, p. 478). 1
The average size of the idealized woman (as portrayed by models), has stabilized at 13-19% below healthy weight. (Garner et al., 1980)
A statistic I see floating around but cannot find the source of says that only 5% of women actually have the genetics to look like a model.
And of course, there’s the issue of photoshop. Check out the video to the right. –>
What we’re seeing in the media is not only unattainable by genetics for 95% of the population (if this statistic is true), but it’s not even real. It’s photoshop, composition and CGI.
Yet the damage is still being done.
In Western societies, approximately 40%–50% of women express some level of body dissatisfaction. 2
In a survey of adolescents in grades 9 through 12 (approximately ages 14-18), more than 59% of females and 29% of males were trying to lose weight. Over 18% of girls and 8% of boys had gone without food for 24 hours or more to lose weight in the last 30 days. Of the girls, 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight. (Centers for Disease Control, 2004)
Low self-esteem is often associated with health-compromising behaviors in adolescence such as substance use, early sexual activity, eating problems, and thoughts that may lead to suicide. Surprisingly, there is little longitudinal research addressing this issue. (APA, 2007)
But one website is striving to make a difference.
The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.” If this little blog only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Here’s what ‘ya do: Jot down positive messages on sticky notes and leave them on the mirrors of public bathrooms; at work, at the gym, at school, at the grocery store, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be mind-blowingly profound. The effect a few positive words can have on a woman’s attitude is astounding.
That happened to me to. there was a sticky note on the mirror in my library and it made me feel very loved. Now I’m continuing the mission by raising awareness through my Girl Scout silver award project. 3
OperationBeautiful TOTALLY changed my point of view of myself. All the girls at my school are twigs. They ALL have metabolisym and I, have none. I felt, well, I’ll just spit it out- fat. But O.B. changed this and I feel good about myself- I’m happy being me why would I change who I am. […] I just want to say, Thank you. 4
I saw a note with simply “You Are Strong” and this website in a bathroom stall at my college recently. […] I saw this note during a break from my Statistics class, honestly the hardest class I’ve ever taken and I will say I HATE math so it made things worse. Needless to say when I saw this note I broke out into a huge smile and I took a picture of that note and I keep it in my phone so I can look at it anytime I feel like I can’t finish this semester out (which is almost every day sometimes) and it has gotten me through this semester. […] That note not only gave me strength I needed, but made me feel beautiful because of the notes I’ve seen on this site since discovering it! Thank you to whoever put that note there and thank you for creating this idea! 5
Such a simple thing. Just a few words scribbled on a cheap little note stuck on a mirror. It maybe took 5 minutes to write. But if it makes just one person smile, seems to me to be more than worth it.
I am wholeheartedly joining the Operation Beautiful movement. How about you? Will you join us in “Transforming the way you see yourself, one post-it note at a time“?