A few weeks back, my friend Christine posted an excerpt from an L.A. Times article that included a bunch of statistics released by the YWCA concerning women and girls and issues of image, beauty and societal pressure. I remember reading it and being sobered by the pervasive acceptance of plastic surgery as well as by the dollar amounts being shelled out regularly by women to the “beauty” industry. Skimming a recent issue of RealSimple, I was amazed at a section where they profiled a single woman’s monthly budget: hundreds of dollars each month were allocated for “grooming”.
But none of this hit me in a real gut way until a couple of days ago when, for the first time ever, Mercy talked about someone being “fat”. And suddenly, that statistic that I had merely glanced over about eating disorders now beginning in kindergarten made me sick. And scared.
I remember reading “Reviving Ophelia” while on bed-rest last year, and it was staggering to read the stories of how treacherous the journey from childhood to adolescence has become for girls. And that book was written in the 90s (I think).
Like many parents, I am appalled by much of what passes as “children’s” clothing for girls. And just last night, standing in an endless, not-moving line at our newly remodeled Ralph’s, I was scanning the array of celebnews in front of me and realized: wow, we now have paparazzi and magazine coverage of the wardrobes and playrooms of infants and toddlers. Amazing.
Two weeks ago, Mercy turned to me and asked: “Mom, what does pop-ley-er mean?”
As hard as infancy and toddlerhood X3 have felt at times, perhaps the greatest challenges, as many have warned me, are yet to be felt.
From the article mentioned above:
“Eighty percent of women say they’re unhappy with their appearance”
“69% of the respondents (18 and older) said they were in favor of plastic surgery”
“Americans fork over nearly $7 billion a year to cosmetics, beauty supply and perfume stores, and nearly 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed — an almost 500% increase in such procedures from 1997.”
“if women put the average amount of money they spent on monthly manicure-pedicures ($50) into an interest-bearing retirement account every year for 10 years, they would have almost $10,000 saved.”
“With the media playing a larger role in our daily lives, young girls are more susceptible to low self-esteem — based on beauty ideals — than ever before and are subject to greater harassment.”
I would love to hear thoughts from other parents who have already journeyed some through these waters…