Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

An 8-Year-Old’s Take on Body Image

July 15, 2013

What a wonderful self-assessment this young girl has produced:

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Jeniah, 8: “I like my body. I like my eyes because they help me see different things. I also like my hands because they help me write different things. I also like my feet because they help me walk and have fun. My name is Jeniah and I’m 8 years old!”

Click on the link to read A Father’s Advice to His Daughter About Beauty

Click on the link to read The Call to Stop Telling Your Children they are Beautiful

Click on the link to read School Official’s Solution to Harassed Teen: Get a Breast Reduction

Click on the link to read Our Young Children Shouldn’t Even Know What a Diet Is?

Click on the link to read Charity Pays for Teen’s Plastic Surgery to Help Stop Bullying

Click on the link to read Most People Think This Woman is Fat

A Father’s Advice to His Daughter About Beauty

July 9, 2013

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Father Chris Cook penned this wonderful letter to his young daughter Susan:

Dear Susan,

Right now your biggest concern in life is figuring out how to get around the child-proof locks on the kitchen cabinets, but one day you will deal with much bigger issues. Being a woman, one of these will be the problem of beauty and the emphasis put on it by nearly everyone in the world.

You will soon learn that the world is obsessed with beauty. As a woman, you will be bombarded with magazines, ads and commercials full of beautiful people telling you that you’re not pretty enough as you are. I wish I could tell you to ignore all of that, but it’s naïve of me to think you can go the rest of your life immune to the barrage of “beauty tips” thrown out by complete strangers.

There are lots of clichés out there about beauty. “Beauty is only skin deep,” “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and so on, but as with most clichés, they say a lot but don’t mean much. So here is some real, practical advice about beauty.

The definition of beauty is intentionally vague. Find your own meaning for it. Don’t let somebody else define it for you.

From the day you were born, your mother and I have tried to tell you how beautiful you are. We have also tried to tell you how kind and caring you are. We value the last two much more than the first one.

One day somebody – it may even be one of your best friends – will tell you that something about you is ugly. Remember that just because one person says something negative about you doesn’t mean everyone in the world feels that way. That works both ways, though. If you think somebody else is ugly, keep your mouth shut. Just because you think so doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t think he or she is the most beautiful person in the world.

Also, whether you tell them to their face or not, calling someone ugly or fat reveals an ugliness in your soul that not even the prettiest smile can erase.

There may come a time when a boy breaks up with you and starts dating a girl you think is prettier than you. Don’t sweat it. People like that are never satisfied with what they have, and there’s no use trying to change them. Let him go chase the next best thing for the rest of his life.

Yes, beauty will get you certain things in life, mostly attention. Sometimes it’s not good attention, and sometimes all it does is call attention to what you glaringly lack in other areas. Like personality.

There has never been a perfect person. NEVER. Everybody has something about their appearance they want to change, and there are lots of people out there who claim to have a way to correct those things. All those people want is your money. Don’t part with your hard-earned cash just to buy a cure for what someone else labels an imperfection.

There’s nothing wrong with throwing on a nice outfit and doing whatever you feel like to make yourself feel pretty. Just make sure that what you see in the mirror is what you like and not what somebody else will like.

When you ask your husband/fiancé/boyfriend the question, “Do I look pretty?” his answer should always be, without hesitation, “Yes” or some form of that. If he says anything else, he probably isn’t right for you.

Do not end or begin a friendship based on that person’s looks or style. Do not think that surrounding yourself with popular, attractive people will make your life any easier. Befriending people of different backgrounds who have a range of outlooks and goals in life, however, will make you a well-rounded person capable of connecting with folks from all walks of life. That’s called a life skill.

Do not choose your role models based on looks, either. Or the fact that they’re on TV all the time. One of your mother’s role models is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is an amazing lady. Google her.

If you can get up every morning, look in the mirror and be happy with how you look, you will have achieved something that few people in the world ever will. If you can look at your friends and see what makes each of them beautiful, you will wind up with more friends than you can count.

You should also know that your mother and I are not immune to any of these things. We have both broken several of these rules at some point in our lives, and if you ask, we will tell you how stupid we were and how negatively those decisions affected us. Yes, we have learned and grown from those mistakes, but sometimes the lessons are very hard and have irreparable consequences. I have at least one friendship that ended because I was unable to overlook how that person chose to dress.

Our hope is that you never have to experience that. But remember – no matter what you look like, what clothes you wear, what color your hair is, whether you have the expensive new shoes everyone else does or the cheap imitations, we love you.

And for the record, your mom’s Jack Rogers aren’t real. They’re from Payless.

Love,

Dad

 

Click on the link to read The Call to Stop Telling Your Children they are Beautiful

Click on the link to read School Official’s Solution to Harassed Teen: Get a Breast Reduction

Click on the link to read Self-Esteem Crisis Even More Serious than the Obesity Crisis

Most People Think This Woman is Fat

June 3, 2012

This morning’s newspaper asked readers to comment on whether or not they thought this woman was fat. Whilst I don’t think this woman is fat at all, it is the question itself that got me worked up.

It reminded me about how obsessed we are about weight, and how this obsession is going to ensure that our children will spend more time aspiring to fit a certain look rather than to become good people.

Nobody seems to care anymore whether a person is caring, selfless, charitable or kind. These are attributes of losers. Surveys that ask what we would prefer to be, beautiful or kind, favour beautiful every time. The rationale being, that nobody is jealous of a kind person in the way they are of a good-looking one.

How are our children supposed to make sense of this?

It upsets me to see Primary aged children so conscious of their weight. It bothers me no end that 8-year olds know everything there is to know about the perfect body size and shape, but have no insights on the correct protocol for offering ones seat to an elderly person on a crowded train. The thought would never have entered their mind.

Haven’t we learnt our lesson? Did we not realise that an obsession with looks leads nowhere. It doesn’t make one happy. Why are we creating kids that follow our sick ways? Why are we perpetuating the message that there’s nothing wrong with gossiping, fakery and selfishness, but eating ice-cream is a sin?

So, no, I don’t find the woman fat. But guess what? I don’t care whether she is fat or not. I care whether she is a good woman, a kind wife, a loving mother, a loyal friend, a friendly co-worker etc. And ultimately, that’s what I want us all to look for.

There are frumpy, unfit people out there, with pale complexions who have unpopular taste in clothes. Some of these people are also tremendously kind and good-hearted. It would be criminal for us to marginalise these people, as some of them are the real beautiful people!

Fighting for Our Kids’ Self-Esteem

March 4, 2011

There’s a reason why kids are suffering from body image related problems in greater numbers than ever before.  We let them.  Society has a responsibility to ensure that the same dreadful affliction that has had diabolical effects on our generation, doesn’t torment the next.  We have made the mistake of valuing people for all the wrong reasons, putting too high a price on weight, shade and form and too little emphasis on character, personality and integrity.  We place celebrities on pedestal so high, we barely notice that we don’t know anything about them.

Our young notice our insecurities and base a world view on them.  They see the pressures their parents feel about appearance and weight and base their own self-worth on precisely these factors.  Before you know it, you’ve got kids as young as five with eating disorders:

Children are suffering from eating disorders at younger and younger ages according to disturbing new research.

Media consumption, peer pressure and negative messages from parents are all contributing to the problem of poor self-image in children, which can trigger eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. According to the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland, children as young as five are displaying signs of poor body image – and some seven and eight year olds have developed eating disorders.

Experts are stressing that such disorders are not confined to girls, with little boys also being susceptible. Psychologist and author Deirdre Ryan told TheJournal.ie that parents can unthinkingly pass on negative messages to their children: “I was speaking with a six-year-old boy who said that he wanted to lose weight – when I asked him why he said: ‘I have a wedding coming up’. That message was more than likely passed on by a parent,” she said, “Parents have to be aware of what they are saying, even in front of boys, and not engage in ‘fat talk’. Children of this age are hypersensitive.”

Parents need to be more aware of their relationship with their own bodies as well, Ryan said: “It is starting younger and younger – but it is also affecting people who are older – spreading across the life span. Now, there is an expectation that even if you’re in your 60s you should conform to a certain image. It’s very damaging.”

Our generation has already let ourselves down by buying in to the media driven lie about what a person should aspire to be like.  We have been fooled into believing that life is about striving to beat aging, keeping a toned figure and withstanding lines and wrinkles.  The beauty industry has made a bundle out of us, and all we are left with in return is confusion, pressure, anxiety and in many cases a battered self-image.  Is this what we want for our children?

It’s great to invest in one’s health and appearance, but it is important that these things don’t take over.  Our children need to see that we place more value in perfecting our character than our figure.  That we consider integrity, honesty, empathy and loyalty on a higher level than six packs or breast size.

As a teacher, there is only so much I can do.  As a parent, I have a big job ahead of me.

Body Image and Our Youth

November 17, 2010

Young Australians are struggling with stress and school related challenges, but body image is by far their biggest concern.

The survey found stress levels had spiked this year. When asked to rank their personal concerns from a list of 15 issues, 27.3 per cent nominated “coping with stress”, putting it in the top three, compared with 18.7 per cent last year.

Anne Hampshire, from Mission Australia, said that body image issues created stress for both genders.

“What came through in the responses was that young people are worried both about their personal body image and about how the media continues to promote a level of physical perfection that is neither healthy nor achievable,” Ms Hampshire said.

Carmen Acosta, also from Mission Australia, says the results show there needs to be more emphasis on education and programs to tackle poor body image.

“The work needs to continue past adolescence and the information and the support to young people should be also included or extended to post-school environments such as tertiary institutions,” she said.

From my experience in the classroom, body image is a huge area of concern among upper-primary school aged kids as well.  The issue is a strong area of interest of mine, and an inspiration for my unpublished novel (which deals extensively with body image).

It is essential that we improve the way we deal with this very real concern.



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