Teaching body image for girls is very difficult in a culture that is strongly oriented towards a thin ideal. Body hate is on the rise among all age groups. And since it’s always been a problem for girls and teens, it’s reached terrible proportions among our daughters. Here are some disturbing facts:
- Children as young as 5 years old express dissatisfaction with their bodies.
- Preschoolers already know that society judges people by how they look.
- More than 50% of girls and 33% of boys age 6-8 feel their ideal body is thinner than their current body size.
Source: Common Sense Media 2015
Girls face daily pressure to conform to societal expectations. Having a negative body image is considered completely normal for girls. Even if their parents never tell them that they need to be thin and beautiful, the culture shares these messages constantly.
Our girls are at high risk of developing body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders
Most parents don’t know that we must explicitly counteract societal messages about weight and beauty. As a result, our girls are at high risk of developing body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders. And guess what? Even parents who do counteract societal messages still see their girls struggle. This is an unfortunate side effect of living in our culture right now.
Prefer a printed book? Get one mailed to you for $18
The book is presented by Ginny Jones, the founder and editor of More-Love.org, and Raina Rose, 13 years old. They collaborated on a free eBook to help girls develop positive body image. This book quickly and easily presents the tenets of body positivity and body acceptance. It help girls understand the environment in which we live. It gives them tools to gain the confidence to rebel against the forces that support body hate.
I hope you will download this book and consider sharing it with your daughters, nieces, godchildren, students, patients, and student-athletes.
Here’s the opening letter from Raina Rose:
Introduction letter from Raina Rose
Hi peeps! I’m Raina Rose.
Body image is a tough subject, and I feel like a lot of us feel confused. Because on the one hand, we see that body and weight is important in our culture, but when we try to talk about it with grown ups, they just tell us we should love our bodies. I don’t know about you, but that really doesn’t help me.
To me, “love your body” is just another way of making us feel bad about ourselves. That’s why I have a different approach – how about we just know that we’re OK – we’re fine. It’s OK and normal to have bad body thoughts. And it’s OK and normal to look in the mirror and feel bummed sometimes.
Here’s the only thing you need to know: you don’t have to love your body. You don’t have to think it’s perfect in every way. You just have to remind yourself that you’re worthy of respect in any body! I know it feels like you need to fix yourself, improve yourself, and look like the prettiest girl at school. But honestly, you’re good. As you are. No need to do anything or fix anything. You’re fine!
I’m going to provide you with information about body image, fatphobia, and why dieting is not a good idea. These are all tricky topics, and they can feel really confusing. If your mom made you read thousands of puberty books like mine did, you’ll remember that all of them included grown-ups saying something along the lines of, “I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that I was beautiful.” Did you read that in a fake-sounding sing-song voice? I sure did.
“Okay lady, that’s great, but no matter how many times you say that, it’s not changing my self-criticism.”
I remember reading that and thinking, “Okay lady, that’s great, but no matter how many times you say that, it’s not changing my self-criticism.” It’s as if that lady thinks that saying that she wishes that she loved her body back then will make me love my body now.
Reading the same passage again and again didn’t change my thoughts. I thought it was broken. “What’s with this?” I would think, “I’m supposed to think I’m beautiful, but I don’t. So what’s up with that?”
The thing is, no matter how many times you read inspirational quotes about loving yourself. No matter how many times your mom says you’re beautiful. It’s not going to change the fact that the media and our culture at large is built to create self-hatred and body shame. Telling us to “love our bodies” without seeing our bodies within the larger culture just isn’t enough.
If being told you should love your body has changed how you feel about your body, then contact me. Because I will go to your house, bow down at your feet, and shower you with Cadbury eggs, money, and possibly buttons. Seriously, I have a lot of buttons. I need to get rid of them.
We are all beautiful
Nevertheless, we are all beautiful. And sometimes you might not see it or believe it. But I guarantee that if I see you, I will think you are beautiful. That’s because often we can see beauty in other people that we can’t see in ourselves. But don’t be mad at yourself if you don’t feel beautiful. Just remind yourself that you’re normal (and awesome). Don’t diet. Don’t hate your body. You don’t have to compare yourself to other girls or women wearing tiny bikinis on Instagram. You’re fine.
There will be times of doubt. I often find myself complimenting my friends’ looks and then wishing that I looked like them. That’s just how we seem to be, and it’s not an accident. Billion-dollar companies create unattainable beauty standards and encourage us to compare ourselves to others and compete with each other. Then they tell us that if we buy their product we can look just like their models. Don’t feel beautiful yet? That’s OK, they have another product for us to buy! And so the cycle goes. Over and over and over again.
The fact that we feel bad about ourselves and as if we’re in competition with other girls and women doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. But it also doesn’t mean that we have to believe it!
We live in a messed up world, peeps. But this book is hoping to bring a little light into this cave we call society. Enjoy!
Get the free eBook: body image for girls
Prefer a printed book? Get one mailed to you for $18
About Raina Rose
Hi, I’m Raina, and my mom runs More-Love.org. I’m only 13, and I can’t say that I’ve figured all this stuff out. But I can say that I’m really interested in helping all of us find a way to accept ourselves and our bodies.
About Ginny Jones
Hi, I’m Ginny, and I created and run More-Love.org, which helps parents raise kids who are free from body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders. I waged war with my body for too many years, and I’m hopeful that this book will help you enjoy a peaceful relationship with your body.