The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty has recently released a national report, Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, that reveals the current devasting state of self-esteem among young girls in this country. The study was conducted this year among eight to 17 year olds in the US and some of the statistics the study reveals are extremely sad, although not entirely shocking.
75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative and potentially harmful activities, such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking or drinking, when feeling badly about themselves– compared with 25% of girls with high self-esteem.
61% of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves (Compared to 15% of girls with high self-esteem).
Dove has takent the initutive to address these issues by conducting workshops around the country for young girls. They have already reached about 2 million women and hope to reach a total of 5 million by 2010. Among the people who are hard at work with Dove is Jess Weiner, a popular body acceptance activist.
Although I think workshops such as these are a fantastic idea, I think the issue at hand needs to begin with a much higher source. If the images we see in the media on a daily basis continue to be just as vulgar, crude and exclusive of all types of women and men, how can we ever expect to truly change how we think?
As much as I rely on the Fatosphere to help me learn to accept my body and love it, the work seems to be temporarily undone when I am over-exposed with negative media images or when someone makes a dumb comment about my body. It takes a whole lot of work to get me back to a place of positive self-image after one of these encounters.
I am not saying that media is all to blame for my fight to maintain a positive body image and level of self-acceptance. At the end of the day, it is my responsibility to filter what I watch, see, read, etc. and to not let people’s ridiculous comments get to me. But to say that we have a body image crisis in this country and to do nothing about what causes that crisis, just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like we are putting a bandaid over the problem without fixing the source of the problem.
All in all, I think these workshops are a step in the right direction and I might even try to conduct a few of them in my community (Dove provides workshop tools on their website).