written by River Urke
There is an epidemic of large proportion infecting females of all ages. A crisis passed from generation to generation primarily through observing others at home and in the media. Vulnerable girls and adolescents are innocently thrown into the elements of insecurity, while many women tread through life in denial of self-destruction. They are unaware of societal pressures that abuse their innermost self. The tragedy is buried deep in a woman’s psyche with roots stemming back to her childhood. It tramples down her self-esteem and sucks dry her confidence leaving her feeling unworthy. She is unable to be satisfied with herself; instead, she obsesses of being someone else. This epidemic is worldwide, especially with Westernization wrapping around the globe. It is important to note, there are still cultures who oppress women and some that perform horrendous procedures, but that is an article all in itself. This piece is written from the perspective of how Westernization affects the epidemic of low self-esteem.
We are a society obsessed with body image. We focus on the physical and disregard the importance of one’s mind. Our ‘idea of beauty’ is focused on the physical looks represented by a plastic doll named Barbie. A role model we give our daughters that would stand 5’9, weigh 110 pounds, and be severely underweight. In addition, beauty is compared to the average American model who is not to far off from Barbie at 5’11 weighing 117 pounds. This ‘idea of beauty’ our society pushes is an unattainable reality leaving four out of five women unhappy about the way they physically look. The average American woman is 5’4 and weighs 140 pounds, while 40% of American women are overweight. It is estimated 40-50% of American women are on a diet at any given time.
A reality of utmost concern with woman being pushed to obsession of an ideal body is their daughters are watching. The same as they did with their mothers. Generation after generation of woman and girls are caught in a revolving crisis of self-esteem. We tell our girls they can do whatever they put their minds to, but we do not tell them they are beautiful in their own skin. We do not teach good eating habits and the importance of being healthy at our own individual size. Instead, many women ridicule their bodies, starving themselves through diet, and cosmetically changing who they were born to be.
The feeling one has of body image is directly linked to their self-esteem or in other words their self-worth and confidence. In a National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, “seven out of ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.” This report has revealed there is a self-esteem crisis among girls in this country.
I am a mother of an eleven-year-old girl. I will never forget the first time I heard a friend of hers say; “I am fat and ugly.” It was second grade. They were obsessing about the size of their thighs when they sat down. I explained to them our thighs spread out when we are sitting. If you stand it is not fat but muscle that keeps you standing. I learned later that this girl was on a diet with her mother.
This crisis of self-esteem needs to be broken. There is still hope for girls and even women with hard work and wiliness to change. We can grow as a group through understanding and accepting we are beautiful in our own skin. When this step is taken, we will change the society’s idea of beauty and give the media a makeover that represents us as a whole- beginning with Barbie. The place to start is with the girls.
Women and girls need to be free to be who they were born to be.
*Statistics cannot be taken as fact but as pointers towards reality.
Their is not one study encompassing every aspect and
angle of questions.
*Part II- September River’s Ruminations- eating disorders, obesity, healthy lifestyle, and ways to help the girls.
Important messages for everyone