OMFG … pushing unrealistic ideals about their bodies on teen girls much?

I read a blog called Sociological Images, because the way that images are used to influence society and behavior fascinates me. A lot of what we believe, as a culture, is constructed around what we see in popular mass media.  Lately, they did a post on this ad:


Sociological Images points out that this picture implies girls jump from prepubescent to rocking sex machines in one fell swoop, with no puppy fat or oddly shaped growing bosoms or acne or whatnot. That’s bad enough, since any normal girl will look at her normal body and think, “I am weird. Thus, I am bad.” There are strong odds that Jill Average will have a couple of extra pounds or a nose that’s grown before the rest of her face has caught up or hands/feet that seem too big for her arms/legs … all the stuff that makes the adolescence appearance so awkward. Even if she wins the genetic lottery and is all proportional and skinny, now she must have ginormous knockers to be “pretty”. Anyone who fails to meet these criteria is de-facto NOT pretty … which can also be read as “ugly”.

Jesus wept.

Is it surprising that 77% of teen girls think of their appearance in negative terms? Or that 50% of normal weight girls (and 1/4 normal sized boys) say they are too fat? Eating disorders in teens continue to increase. Girls as young as 3 years old have become devotees of the thin ideal. Obviously,  media images matter. The kinds of ads like the one above are a problem.

How on earth am I going to keep my daughters safe from this bullshit?

About Betty Fokker

I'm a stay-at-home feminist mom.
This entry was posted in are you kidding me with this shit?, daughters, fat hating, Feminism, shit I think y'all should know. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to OMFG … pushing unrealistic ideals about their bodies on teen girls much?

  1. If I ever have a daughter, I will try to play an active role in teaching her about reality vs images in the media and also tell her how beautiful she is, inside and out. I don’t want to lie to her and tell her that everyone is going to be cursed with acne and oddly shaped bodies through teen years, because odds are she will likely see the few girls in class who will always naturally look like Glamour magazine cover girls even without makeup on, and she will go “wtf?!” just like I did when I was growing up. She will have to learn one day or another that this world is screwed up but just because she might have small boobs, which she likely will, that doesn’t make her ugly. Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes and no matter what you look like, there will always be people who love you and think you look good no matter what.

  2. BarbN says:

    Well, on the plus side (pun intended), did you see the Muppet Movie? First time in years I’ve seen a movie with a lead actress who had a normal sized waist. In fact, compared to other movies I’ve seen Amy Adams in, I suspect they might even have padded her a bit. and there were plus-sized dancers in the front row of every musical number. Which makes you think that maybe somebody somewhere is thinking about this stuff. I loved that movie, and not the least because of Adams’ normal looking figure.

    Here is a url with pics,, and after reading the accompanying article, turns out she was six months post partum. But at least they didn’t force her to starve herself, or stuff her into a corset, or dump her for a skinny actress.

  3. I can only tell you about my experience with a girl child. Very little TV exposure while growing up, most of that was PBS. Lots of reading, with a view toward strong female protagonists. Lots of physical activity. Food talk was centered on healthy and helps you grow and doesn’t really help you grow even though it might taste good. Lots of reinforcement of positive traits – that was hard for you, but you worked and made it happen kind of thing. Avoiding comparisons of physical beauty. Pointing out different kinds of beauty in all different kinds of people. Then, as she got older and started paying more attention to media, pointing out how images are altered and how unreal many of them are. She’s pretty happy with her looks except for how her hair gets frizzy. Of course part of that may be that her body type is rather thin with long legs so even without boobs she more closely resembles the current societal ideal, but part of it is that she has healthy self-esteem. From what I can tell, the girls who are involved in sports tend to be more accepting of their bodies, and more comfortable with them than girls who aren’t. I also tried extremely hard not to be outwardly critical of my own looks even when I felt like l looked like a sleep-deprived hippo.

    I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. From reading your posts, you have an excellent idea of how to raise healthy girls – mind and body. You probably know way more about it than I do!

  4. Carol says:

    I have a new baby grand-daughter whom I will be shielding from all this crap. It is interesting to note, my son is already on the look out.

  5. Robin S. says:

    You keep them safe by doing what you’re doing. Talking about it, showing them what’s wrong, telling them they’re fine the way they are, and loving them for who they are, no conditions.

  6. lunarmom says:

    How will you do it? Hopefully better than I did. But,
    as it turns out, we’re all fine. Eventually.

  7. londonmabel says:

    As someone who didn’t have body image issues growing up, and still don’t, I think you’re on the right track. I think the first most important thing is that my parents (all 3) loved me, and they were very supportive of me. I was told I was beautiful, in and out.

    My mother was overtly feminist, and she was political–so she talked about these things. I don’t ever remember hearing her disparage her looks in front of me. She was overweight, but I only learned once I was an adult that she’d ever dieted. As of the age of 15 I was preaching to everyone else. I saw my mother as my role model.

    But every child is born as they’re born… as you know. ;-) So in the end, who knows. Maybe one daughter will have more anxieties or insecurities. Maybe one of them will Rebel! against the message! But you love them to bits and that creates the right foundation. You can only do so much, every one of us is born with our character. A loved child with insecurities will still be happier than an unloved child.

  8. Luna says:

    I have a teenaged daughter. She is astoundingly beautiful. I’m not being biased here. She is. I know because I’m fighting back jealousy. HARD. She’s size 0. She’s got B cups. She’s got perfect skin as long as she eats low fat and remembers to wash her face. She’s got huge multi-coloured eyes. Hair that is thick and wavy. She’s insanely beautiful. She *still* finds things to hate. She seems to have it in her head that if she likes her body, her face, her looks in general, then she’s being vain or conceited. Girls her age aren’t allowed to say, “Yeah, I like the way I look”. Society frowns on it. It’s disgusting.

  9. Skye says:

    I didn’t have body issues growing up, but I was slender and I hid my body. Molestation issues caused my idea that I wasn’t beautiful, because my parents both told me how beautiful I was. Okay, the bad case of rosacea starting at age 13 didn’t help. But yeah, I hid my body and refused to believe I was beautiful. Now, I think sometimes that I’m gorgeous and sometimes that I’m a block of blubbery fat (yeah, gained weight from emotional eating, which I only started late in life).

    I think that you and SB will do an awesome job with your kids. They’ll know to come to you or SB if someone tries to behave inappropriately with them, they’ll know they are loved and safe — including safe to feel beautiful and smart, and they’ll know they are beautiful, inside and out.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s