We’ve all seen this video, and the countless other that Dove ® has produced in their campaign to encourage inner beauty. For those of you who skipped watching it *shame on you :-P*, the video shows the effect that the media (television, magazines, etc) can have on our self-image–obsessing over weight, skin tone, the way you dress and a plethora of other characteristics that are used to define beauty. As a child growing up in this kind of society, it is nearly impossible to escape without some form of insecurity. I know this first hand. The struggle to be the perfect weight, or to dress or act in a certain way can be a difficult thing to overcome, especially at a young age. In a study done by researchers Anne Becker and Rebecca Burwell (Harvard Eating Disorders Center), it was found that with exposure of multimedia on the island of Fiji, the prevalence of eating disorders in that nation increased. (wow!) The study was started before Western television (what we watch) was introduced to the nation. Prior to the introduction of such media, Fijian women held true to their traditional standards of beauty–being “plentiful” was considered sexy. In fact, “large bodies” were considered a sign of wealth and health. As Becker and Burwell’s study shows, only three years after the introduction of Western media, reports of women taking measures to control their weight (vomiting) increased nearly FIVE TIMES. 74% of the female population proclaimed that they felt fat and unattractive. It only took three years for this to happen. Imagine what damage is done in the nations where such media came from. Look at the facts in the US:
- 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance.
- 81% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.
- Women are routinely degraded in everything from pop culture to casual conversation.
- 57% of rock music videos portray women as a sex object, a victim, as unintelligent, or in a condescending way.
- One out of four college-age women have an eating disorder.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and teenagers. Teen girls are more likely to attempt suicide.
- Three-fourths of girls with low self-esteem engage in negative activities, such as disordered eating, bullying, smoking or drinking.
- Only 2% of women think they are beautiful.
Only 2% of women feel they are beautiful! That’s just sad. As a society, what can we do to overcome this? I think that Dove is on the right track. Just as we are impacted by the bad, perhaps we can be impacted by the good. By integrating more positive media, I believe women can be encouraged to just love who they are, regardless of what they look like. Music videos such as Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”, or India.Arie’s “Video Girl”, empower such a feelings in women. After hearing “Video Girl” by India.Arie, I personally felt a surge of self-confidence; feeling beautiful in my own skin, rocking my natural hair (“the fro”) and not feeling the need to conform to society by straightening it. Because of this, I have FINALLY discovered what true beauty or sexiness means. My mother always said that when you feel sexy on the inside, you look sexy on the outside. Point blank, the end. I now see that she was right (like mom’s usually are.) But it wasn’t easy to get to the point I where I am today. It is my hope that with the increase of POSITIVE media, the standard of beauty will change, so that others can feel the same way that I do. That beauty becomes not what society thinks is ‘sexy’, but what YOU think is sexy in the true essence of beauty.
Until then, I want you to do something that a good friend once told me to do (Shout out to Zay!). Look into the mirror every morning, and every night before you go to bed. Looking in the eyes of your reflection, say “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” ten times. Then say “I AM BEAUTIFUL”. Because you are, and you deserve to hear it.
Until next time, may God keep you and continue to show you His love <3
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