“This book is about a 14 year old girl who goes on a diet and is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.”
It think it is important to combat a wave of obesity in young people and adults with education about healthy nutrition and by making exercising fun but to just target teenage girls and promote dieting as a “quick fix” is a step too far.
Pre-teenage and Teenage years are exactly the age groups when girls are most vulnerable to anorexia. What girls need are books that celebrate diversity of body types and a wide variety of beauty. A book that equals skinny with beautiful and popular can be really harmful to self-esteem of insecure girls and might set them up with a life-time eating disorder.
Sadly it seems some go even further in their ideas of how attractive young girls should look. Skinny is not enough. They are also meant to look beautiful and sexy and if this means styling the girls with heavy make-up and selling them adult style underwear – so be it.
I could not believe my eyes when I saw the promo shots on the “Jours-Apres-Lunes” website. This company is selling exclusive underwear aimed at girls from three to twelve and features lots of Lolitas, some of them styled like a miniature version of Brigitte Bardot. The photos make it look as if after school girls like nothing more than cavorting round in tight knickers and tiny bras, stroking themselves seductively with plume feathers or cuddling their bear toy whilst looking seductively into the camera.
These highly stylised images seem to suggest that girls are sensual and sexy, “ripe for picking” and I can imagine how these shots could give many adults looking at them the wrong idea. Of course even before puberty many girls are discovering their sexuality but it is for them to explore by themselves or with equals rather than to be exploited by adults on pictures or in reality.
I wonder how the girls will grow up that even at 4, 8 or 12 years old they think they are only beautiful if they are skinny, wear make up and sexy underwear?! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and girls are brainwashed at an early age to conform to an adult and often male idea of what is attractive and desirable. It is all about pleasing others and fitting the mould. When or how will they develop their sense of individuality and self-worth – independent of what their body shape is or what clothes, make-up or hairstyle they wear? Maybe never. And that makes me sad.