Tuesday, July 14, 2015

10 Ways "Society" is Destroying my Daughters' Body Image

I have three daughters who are currently 7(almost 8), 10, and 12 (almost 13). Even at these tender ages, all of them have voiced various complaints about their bodies. My youngest doesn't like her freckles. My middle despises her dry skin. My oldest would love for her naturally curly hair to magically become straight. The thing that bothers me the most, though, is that they have ALL, at some point, criticized themselves for being fat. I can assure you, however that none of them are at all overweight. They are all within in perfectly normal size ranges for their age and, one in particular, I would even say is skinny. Yet, the "I'm fat" and the "I need to be thinner" has somehow seeped in. 

It worries me because I am concerned about the way they will perceive themselves as they grow up. I, of course, think they are perfect and beautiful. I want them to feel that way, too. How is it, then, that these self critical thoughts have found their way into the minds of my daughters? 

This is a question I ask myself often and, since we are focusing on our bodies for today's Tuesday Ten in honor of National Nude Day, I decided to take the opportunity to do a little reflecting and researching on the subject. What resulted was the following Ten Ways that Society is Destroying My Daughters' Body Image.
  1. The media glamorizes the unrealistic. According to one fact I read, 72% of women in the US wear a size 12 or above. However, designers typically refuse to include any models larger than a size 4 in their runway shows. If they want "real" women to buy their clothes, why don't they show "real" women wearing them? 
  2. We are bombarded with weight loss strategies. Even a woman who is "skinny" can be convinced that she needs to try the latest diet fad just by standing in the grocery check out line for a few minutes and reading the most recent magazine covers. We are constantly bombarded with "miracle solutions melt the excess pounds" even if we don't have any excess pounds that need to be shed. We need to focus on being healthy; not being skinny.
  3. We see celebrities chastised for gaining weight. In March, Kelly Clarkson was unmercifully "fat-shamed" on Twitter after an appearance on a late night TV show. A British TV personality tweeted that she was happy to have a wide screen! That is just one example of a celebrity who has come under fire for a figure that is deemed less than stellar. If you are a "regular woman" like me (non-celebrity, that is), it is likely to leave you wondering what "people" would say about you and your own physique.
  4. On the contrary, celebrities are celebrated for losing weight. While doing research, I saw two articles praising Jessica Biel and Carrie Underwood for their amazing bodies just months after giving birth. It makes us feel like we should do the same and anything less remarkable is unacceptable. 
  5. "Larger" celebrities are hailed as heroic and brave. If you begin running through a list of famous females in your mind, I bet the vast majority of them are "thin." There are a few, however, who have managed to find stardom despite being a bigger size. Those women are touted as courageous and bold; daring to break the mold. Why is it gallant to be average? Because, we are led to believe that slender is superior.
  6. The term "plus size" is used to describe average. As I mentioned earlier, the average woman in the US is a size 12-14. Yet, a size 14 is also considered by many to be a "plus size."  Lane Bryant, is a retailer that sells "fashionable, plus size clothing for women." They carry sizes 14-28. Therefore, those of us who fall in the category of "average" are told repeatedly that were are to big to fit into "regular" size clothes. 
  7. The recent convention of using the BMI is not congruent with actuality. BMI stands for the body mass index and is a method of measurement that has become popular in the last few years. I consider myself average and typically fall within the size 12-14 range. However, when I plug my stats into this BMI calculator, it tells me that I fall firmly within the overweight category. In fact, I would have to drop over 15 pounds to get down to the normal range. Basically, I have to be 15 pounds lighter and approximately 1-2 dress sizes smaller than average to not be overweight. That doesn't' seem to make much sense to me. 
  8. There is no standardized method of sizing women's clothes. What do I mean by that? Well, men can go buy pants with a 32 inch waist for example. The pants may vary by style (pleated vs. non-pleated, etc.) but thirty-two inches is thirty-two inches. That doesn't hold true in women's clothing. I might be able to wear a size 12 in one brand, but, for a similar style in another brand, I may need a 14 or even be able to fit into a 10. I've said here that the average woman is a size 14, but what constitutes a size 14 vs. a size 10 or a size 20?? Without these standards, clothing sizes have also changed. According to one WebMd article I read, what would have been considered a size 4 in the 1950s would now be considered a size 8. 
  9. Clothes are skimpier than ever. Plain and simple, women are showing more of their bodies these days. My mother has told me stories about being required to wear skirts when she was in college. Now, college girls are wearing short shorts and spaghetti strap tank tops to class. Just look at the difference in bathing suits!
    Black and White Photo Source
    Bikini Photo Source
    When I buy my 12 year old shorts to wear to school, they have to pass the finger test - with hands straight down by her sides, shorts must be longer than her fingertips - and, honestly, it is difficult to find shorts that long. The clothes women are offered nowadays are shorter, tighter, and generally reveal more skin than ever before. Therefore, perceived flaws are harder to hide and more difficult to overlook.
  10. The final item on my list is ME. There are times when I have been very honest about my own struggles with body image and other times when I've tried to keep it under wraps (by posting anonymously - until now!). The truth is, it's a struggle for me. It always has been. I have caved in under the pressure of all the other things on this list and I wear my self deprecation like an invisible dumbbell tied around my neck. I frequently fat-shame the woman in the mirror and I can count on one hand the times I have really, truly felt pretty in my 38 years of life. However, I am trying so, so hard not to pass that on to my girls. I'm trying not to be part of the problem by learning to accept myself and the body I have been given. I am attempting to remember that it is this body which gave me my girls in the first place. I want my daughters to grow up knowing that they are beautiful, but also that they are so much more than what is on the outside. The best way to teach them that is to show them that. I'm trying. I'm a work in progress and some days are definitely better than others. Two steps forward and one step back. 
I can't change what our culture has become and I can't stop the endless media barrage of messages trying to convince us that average is not good enough. Truthfully, I wrote this post for me AND for my girls, because, really, that is all I can control. I will continue to work on my own discontent and I will keep doing my best to make sure my daughters receive the right message about their bodies. Hopefully, in the end, we can all embrace these words:

Your Tuesday Ten hostesses are:


The Teacher Wife
facebook pinterest
We hope you have enjoyed our #TuesdayTen lists! If so, please link up one of your own and share your post using #TuesdayTen!
1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the TuesdayTen topic for this week and add our TuesdayTen button to your post or sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts. Links not pertaining to the topic will be removed at the hosts' discretion.
3) Visit your hosts and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list without linking up, click here.

Come link up again next Tuesday, July 24. It's National Junk Food Day, so we'll be sharing a list of the foods that would fill our pantries, refrigerators, and stomachs if calories and nutrition didn't matter! 
The Golden Spoons


Janine Huldie said...

I think you know after I wrote about this myself that I am the number one reason that I worry about my girls now and in the future for their own perceived body issues. I totally agree that the media doesn't help, but because of this I also have my own issues and demons and totally do worry about how project this onto my own girls, as well. Sadly, it just is what it is and seriously though can relate on more levels than one here.

Dana said...

And you know why there is a #10 on your list, Lisa? Because of numbers 1 through 9. It perpetuates itself generation after generation, this unattainable standard of beauty and thinness. I admire your honesty, Lisa (and I just read your BluntMoms post - fabulous!). I hope your girls can find parts of their bodies that they love and are proud of, and concentrate on those. I suspect with your help and support, they will.

Julie S. said...

This is very true, media does hurt our body image and young girls are very susceptible to this type of brain washing. I hope your girls can realize how awesome they are with your support :)

MamaRabia said...

Thank you for putting this out there, Lisa! I hate that our daughters hear these things and feel this way. I just want her to love herself and be happy with who she is, but it seems that society is fighting me on that at every turn!

Stacey Gannett said...

Great post, Lisa! I too have always struggled with body issues, mostly thanks to my mom, and definitely agree with being a work in progress. I am trying to change my desire to lose weight into more of a health issue, wanting to be healthier for the family. My daughter has also talked about being fat and thinking that she is ugly, and nothing could be farther from the truth. I will keep trying for me and keep fighting for her in this world of skimpy and too thin image that society projects.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks, Janine! It is a constant battle!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks, Dana! It is something I struggle with more than I let on(at least I hope I don't let on as much s it bothers me), but having daughters and hearing them criticize themselves has given me a very different perspective.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks, Julie! Me, too!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...


Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

It breaks my heart every time, Tamara! And it is scary and sad how it seeps in no matter how we try to protect them from it.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Amen, Stacey - has to be for ourselves as well as for them!

Chris Carter said...

Oh how I love this post so much. Thank you for highlighting all of the influences on our girls!! It's so difficult with my daughter, because she has always been plump. She will fight with this for her entire life, and I pray pray pray.. she can LOVE the body she has.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...