Is this dress sexy enough? Do I look fat? Do you think I need plastic surgery on my body? Unfortunately these are just a few of the questions young girls are asking not only themselves, but each other on a daily bases. Who or what has caused the young girls and women in our society to have these thoughts? I believe that family, friends, media and society have all contributed to the self-doubt that plagues these young girls and women. Young girls see and hear several messages when turning into women.
These messages can cause irreparable damage to their young and underdeveloped minds. Messages such as being skinny, dressing provocatively and not aging gracefully are among those who have limited these young girls. One message young girls see and hear is that they should be skinny. Many of these girls will try to mimic the skinny models that they often see on TV and in magazines. It is unfortunate that these young girls are growing up in a society that puts such an influence on the way we look.
Robin Givhan writes, “The Spring 2013 runway shows, which finished in Paris this month, were filled with impossibly skinny, extremely young gazelles. So were the fall glossies. Fashion as usual, perhaps-yet this was supposed to have changed” (Givhan 1). It is no wonder that young girls strive to be as thin as possible when all they see is skinny models around their age plastered all over the TV and magazines. I believe that this is one of the worst messages young girls can receive.
Susan Bordo touches on this subject in her essay “The Empire of Images in Our World of Bodies”, in which she covers how young girls think and feel about their bodies. Bordo writes, “They are aware that virtually every advertisement, every magazine cover, has been digitally modified and that very little of what they see is ‘real’. That doesn’t stop them from hating their own bodies for failing to live up to computer-generated standard. They know, no matter what their parents, teachers, and clergy are telling them, that ‘inner beauty’ is a big laugh in this culture” (Bordo 3).
I agree with Bordo because many young girls want to be like what they see on TV and magazines versus what their parents tell them how they should be. It is impossible to be a carbon copy of the advertisements that plague our society and that lead young girls to feel self-doubt about their bodies. A valuable lesson that I believe that young girls should learn is that beauty is only skin deep, and what lies beneath is much more valuable than anything that can be bought or worn on the outside.
A second message young girls see and hear is that they have to dress provocatively. This in my opinion is a message young girls have not only adopted as young girls but have been pushed into by friends, family and the media. This could also be said for both young and older woman. Ariel Levy said, “I’d walk down the street and see teens and young woman and the occasional wild fifty-year-old-wearing jeans cut so low they exposed what came to be known as butt cleavage paired with miniature tops that showed off breast implants and pierced navels alike” (Levy 690).
I too have seen the countless young girls and women walking down the sidewalks and every shopping mall that I have ever been in with butt cleavage and exposed pierced navels. To be honest it doesn’t stop at the clothing choices; in fact, it continues with makeup, body glitter and aroma filled lotions. I can only imagine the millions cosmetic companies are profiting off of young girls. Kay S. Hymowitz writes, “AM Cosmetics has introduced the Sweet Georgia Brown line for tweens. It includes body paints and scented body oils with come-hither names like Vanilla Vibe and Follow Me Boy.
Soon, thanks to the Cincinnati design firm Libby Peszky Kattiman, after she has massaged her body with Follow Me Boy oil, your little darling will also be able to slip into some tween-sized bikini panties” (Hymowitz 3). I cannot believe that such products are being marketed to such young girls. Not only are young girls learning how to dress provocatively but now they are also learning that they have to wear makeup and scented body oils in order to attract attention from others. I think that we should reinforce to young girls that not all attention is good attention and that something’s are better left to the imagination.
The last message young girls see and hear is that they cannot age gracefully and must alter their bodies. I truly believe that this message can cause the most harm not only to young girl but to all women. Within the past fifty years all we as women have heard is that we must maintain our looks to those of a twenty something beauty. Betsy Cummings writes, “Anti-aging products totaled $1. 6 billion in 2007, up 63% from 2002. In the prestige market, dollar volume for anti-aging products has risen 28% since 2003, per the Chicago-based firm” (Cummings 2).
With the magazines, TV and Internet saturated with what cosmetic companies claim to be the fountain of youth it is no wonder that every young girl and woman have bought and tried at least one of those miracle creams. Unfortunately, many young girls and women do not stop at applying miracle creams but have opted for more permanent measures such as plastic surgery. Young girls and women do not want to age gracefully anymore in today’s society. They want to maintain their bodies looking like a statue in a wax museum.
Bordo said, “When I wrote those words, the most recent statistics, from 1989, listed 681,000 surgical procedures performed. In 2001, 8. 5 million procedures were performed. They are cheaper than ever, safer than ever, and increasingly used not for correcting mayor defects but for ‘contouring’ the face and body. Plastic surgeons seem to have no ethical problems with this” (Bordo 2). With plastic surgeons at the ready with scalpels in hand will only add to the increase of unnecessary procedures performed on our young girls.
I believe that we as a society must rally together and abolish this notion that we must look like we once did and that it is perfectly natural to age. Several things can be done to help stomp out these negative messages that young girls have received from family, friends, media and society. We need to teach young girls to embrace their natural bodies, and that clothes is not a status symbol but just a means to protect our bodies. But most important is that life has many stages for example childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Women are like roses with our beauty in stages and not at a constant bloom.