While body image issues are present in women of all ages, they are an especially growing problem among young girls and young women. The media’s narrow beauty ideal is beginning to reach girls of younger and younger ages as the media becomes increasingly present in our society. When girls are constantly bombarded with advertisements and media messages on a daily basis and are more frequently using social media platforms they are likely to absorb the media’s beauty standards and compare themselves to those standards. The younger girls are, the more vulnerable they are to the messages around them. If they are constantly hearing things like “ do these jeans make me look fat” or “I wish I could look like that model” they are going to start imitating these behaviors.
Young girls can be receiving the same pressures to look beautiful and be thin that older women deal with, but the vulnerability of young girls allows them to be more affected by the internalization of the thin- ideal portrayed in the media. According to a study done in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, adolescent girls who already had somewhat internalized the thin-ideal and were given a 15 month subscription to a fashion magazine showed more dissatisfaction toward their bodies afterward. The constant exposure to these extremely skinny models lead the girls to believe that they should look like this and their idea of what average body features look like was distorted.
Dove released a startling statistic that only 11% of girls ages 10-17 would feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful. This number is really discouraging when one thinks about youth. Youth is a time to be carefree, creative and happy without the stresses of adult life. How can a young girl feel carefree and creative if she feels tremendous pressure from society to conform to an ideal that is unreachable? If a young girl is under these pressures, it is hard to believe that she is happy. Most mothers and women in a young girls life want nothing more than for her to be happy and grow up to be a strong, confident woman. In order to ensure this happy future for a young girl, mothers and mother figures in a girl’s life are responsible for teaching her to acknowledge media’s messages and learn to disregard them. It is also her responsibility to bestow confidence on said young girl from a young age and to stop any negative self-body talk in front of her. By stopping this negative talk, she will in turn help not only her daughter’s confidence, but her own. Unfortunately, in today’s society, self-love must be taught, so help teach these young women the most important lesson of all: love yourself.