In case you’re a newcomer to my blog, I urge you to read about Shining Stars before you continue with this post. You can read all about the program at the bottom of the page here.
Also before reading this post, I’d like you to watch this short, but powerful, YouTube clip:
Young girls are constantly bombarded with negative body image messages from all forms of media: magazines, TV, movies, commercials, and other forms of advertising. The media sends out unconstructive ideas on what women should to look like in order to be considered “beautiful”, when more often than not beauty is portrayed in a way that’s unrealistic and unattainable for most women. The images of supermodel-esque women depicted in the media do not accurately represent the range of body sizes and shapes that exist in the real world. The super-skinny, flawless looking models and actresses are presented as if everyone is supposed to look like them with ease, when that’s simply unrealistic for the majority of us.
Because of the media frequently (not always) portraying beauty in a negative light, I spent this week’s Shining Stars meeting devoted to the topic of self-esteem and the media.
I had torn out some advertisements from fashion magazines that I had lying around at home, and held them up one by one for the young girls to observe. There were a variety of different advertisements presented: some for hair products, some for make-up items, and some for articles of clothing. The girls in the advertisements were all “perfect”: they had shiny and luscious hair, clear and radiant skin, perfectly crafted facial features, and were all about a size 0-2. After I showed them the pictures, I asked them how they felt about themselves after viewing the advertisements. Here were some responses:
…Like I’m not pretty like them
…I feel bad about myself
…That I need to go on a diet
A nine year old felt like she needed to go on a diet after looking at these advertisements. A nine year old! When young girls are constantly viewing images of flawless, perfect women, they will inevitably have a decrease in self-esteem by believing that they don’t live up to society’s standard of what beauty is. It becomes programmed into their minds that they aren’t beautiful or worthy unless they look like a supermodel or movie star.
I then showed the young girls a YouTube clips to show them what is done to “normal-looking” women to look like the pictures that they see in advertisements and on their favorite television shows. I urge you to watch this short clip, as it possesses a powerful message.
The girls were absolutely astonished by the short clip. They couldn’t believe the shocking transformation. I then held up the advertisements from the beginning of the meeting and explained that the women depicted in these advertisements most likely spent hours getting their hair and make-up done, and then were probably slaughtered by Photoshop. Now when these young girls look at magazine covers or see billboards of beautiful women, they will understand what the media does to the images, simply to sell a product.
I explained to them that one’s self-esteem can be negatively impacted by the media if she believes that she can and should look like every woman she sees on commercials or on popular television shows. Some girls even go to unhealthy extremes, like eating disorders, to try to attain the image of beauty that is depicted by the media. The images that the media produces are that if a woman puts in “enough effort” she too can look like the models in the advertisements, by going on diets and by buying the clothing and products that the models are trying to sell, which in my opinion, is false advertisement.
I ended the meeting with a proclamation along these lines:
“Although you are bombarded with these messages throughout your day, it’s up to you to decide how you will let them affect you. Know that when you see a perfect looking model on television or in the movies, that she most likely went through hours of hair and make-up to look a certain way for the sake of the product. Instead of going to unhealthy extremes trying to look like super models or movie stars, or comparing yourself to the women portrayed in the media, try to be your best you by eating healthy and by exercising on a regular basis. Your body is unique. Love it, cherish it, and be proud of it.”
After my closing statement, we sung along to the Shining Star’s theme song, Who Says by Selena Gomez. I had never heard the girls sing the song so loudly or enthusiastically before. There’s nothing more inspiring to hear twenty-two young girls singing, “Who says I’m not perfect? Who says I’m not worth it? Who says I’m not beautiful? I’m no beauty queen, I’m just beautiful me!”I feel confident that in that moment, they all felt truly beautiful and worthy, just the way that they are.
With every Shining Stars meeting, I feel more that this is somehow where I am meant to be in life. I feel incredibly blessed for the opportunity to help girls feel more beautiful and confident in their own skin and to love the unique individual that they are. By helping them, I am inadvertently helping myself and increasing my own self-esteem with every meeting. It’s funny how when you make others feel beautiful, you feel more beautiful in return. I look forward to future club meetings and to yearn to keep increasing the self-esteem of these talented and special young girls.
Happy helping girls to shine,