Sunday, 4 January 2015

OLIVIA: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

Reader Olivia has some very powerful and thought-provoking views on confidence, looks and media pressure… this post is a must-read for all of us.

Olivia says:
From around the age of twelve, and sometimes even younger, girls are really vulnerable to the messages the media send out. From the second we wake up in the morning, we see images of thin, perfectly made-up girls on TV, in magazines, adverts and more. We have nobody to tell us to ignore these, to educate us on how airbrushed they are. In fact, strong role models like mothers, aunts and older cousins will talk about diets and 'bad' foods; people will comment on the way we look. These messages are drummed into us from such a young age that some girls cannot help but copy the behaviours, trying to meet these unattainable ideals. We are shown images of women with literally no flaws, edited and photoshopped beyond recognition, and then fed adverts for weight loss products and make-up to cover up our own 'flaws'. 

This dependence on looks has been around for a very long time and will probably be extremely hard to break, but there are ways girls can be taught to love and value themselves, irrespective of appearance. There should be more assemblies and PSHE lessons on self-confidence, and not just at high school level… girls need to be taught all this from the very beginning. Girls shouldn't be drawn into playing with toys like Barbies at such a young age, because they imprint the message that we must strive for a look which is physically impossible to achieve. If Barbie was real, she would be unable to walk except on all fours; her legs simply couldn't carry her weight. Her neck would be twice as long as the average woman's and her waist would be thinner than her head, leaving only enough room for half a liver and a few inches of intestine. Girls need to see that these 'ideals' are really really not achievable and should not be aimed at in any way.

I also think girls should be complimented on other things apart from their appearance, for example, 'You are brave and strong'; 'you are intelligent and worthy'; 'you are kind and caring.' Girls should know they are worthy in themselves, and not just reflect the opinions of whichever gender they're attracted to. Many teenage girls want to 'look good for boys' and feel bad about themselves when not accepted by them, but this is so wrong. We need to love and accept ourselves, no matter what others may think. Some magazines call a size 12 'plus size', yet this is the size of an average woman; models of all sizes need to become commonplace. I have seen the effect the media can have; a twelve year old girl not able to leave her hospital bed and almost at the point of death because of anorexia. Something NEEDS to be done to change this before more young people suffer… and soon.

Pictures modelled by fab reader Alex; thank you for your help!

Cathy says:
I totally agree with Olivia's words… I too have seen the damage the unrealistic expectations and media images can do. Do YOU feel pressured by magazines and TV to look a certain way? Does this ever make you feel insecure or unhappy? COMMENT BELOW to share your views...

8 comments:

  1. so, a so-called "normal" size to magazines is SIX? most 12 or 13 year old girls are size 8 or 10. and like Olivia said, size 12 is normal for a woman. this post is so true. all dolls are stick thin, perfect, and a very bad example to young girls. just listen to me. you DON'T need to be living on lettuce, using all that make up. okay, something for your lips so they don't crack, and nail art is absolutely fine. you don't need to look like barbie. just be yourself, dress the way you want, and ignore the people in the magazine.
    thank you.

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  2. Thnx u so much for writing this blog post Olivia:) I am 12 years old I either wear childrens clothes or an adult size 6. I am slim-average for my age, yet the way magazines present all models and their size it makes me feel uncomfortable. Even though my size is fine, I keep on thinking to myself 'oh my legs could be thinner' or 'those models r only a size up from u and they weigh a few more kilograms than u and they r twice the age of u, come on'. I have no problem with slim models, I am one of them and will probably stay a similar size to what I am now to when I am older. But sometimes I feel that other sizes of women should be allowed to be models, like women of a size 12, that is the average size of a women, but now people potray women of this size to being big. Even if u r of a bigger size, it may be ur natural build or from ur parents, but as long as u feel like u r eating and being healthy it shouldn't be a problem. As the wonderful Meghan Trainor says 'Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top':) whether that means ur slightly slimmer than others or slightly bigger than others. No one should be ever told they r 'too fat' or 'too skinny'. I will keep my comment anonymous for this blog:)

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  3. Hi people!
    I TOTALLY agree with this post. Girls on the front of mags, in movies, in adverts and even on the front of books, please don't be offended, Cathy, but I don't think it was a good idea toput real girls on the front cover of some of your books, i'm around 120lb (9 stone) at the age of 12 and two months and I've got a lot of spots. That has lowered my confidence. I probably have won the world record for the worlds quietest, shyest girl. BUT, when I get the perfect Best Friend who goes to the same school as me, my confidence goes up ALOT. But as I am now in yr7 and my Best friend EVER from primary school goes to another school, I am back to quiet :(
    But I am trying to ignore all these photoshoped photos and be confident.
    If anyone feels like me, listen to Invsable by Hunter Hayes. Seriously it's great. "So your confidence is quiet, to them quiet looks like weakness, but you don't have to fight it, 'cos ur strong enough to win without a war"
    Those are some of the lyrics :)

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    1. When i started secondary school in September 2013 none of me friends came to the same school as me. I was completely alone. I made friends quite easily but i was and still am extremely shy. I started comparing myself to others and started to think that i was fat. I became obsessed with my weight and tried to eat less but my mum made me eat. At school i wouldn't eat lunch but my friends noticed. I think i was almost suffering from an eating disorder. I was 102 pounds then. Now i eat normally and don't worry about my weight. I'm still trying to be louder and more confident, i have got better. By the way getting spots is part of growing up.

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    2. I know spots is a part of growing up, but it seems i am the only one is my year with them

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  4. With sort of thing I find teachers talk the talk but can't walk the walk. Teachers will one day that you are fine the way you are and you shouldn't be dieting and the next be complaining to other teachers how they are "back on that diet" or you offer them something and they say "no thanks, I'm on a diet". None of these teachers actually need diet, they all are fine the way they are. We (as a school) have plenty of PSHE lessons, and this is one of the topics that has come up but with teachers saying and doing two different things , you lose trust that what the teachers are saying in lesson is true.

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  5. I like fashion and magazines, and I just ignore the models, just look at the clothes, because it is not normal to look like that, it is some people's reality, but I don't have to look like that

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  6. make up? I like lip make up since it just colours or gives a sheen to your lips, painting nails is a form of art rather than make up and eye shadow is for special occasions and make overs and fancy dress. I hate blush, never use foundation but if I ever cut my face which I rarely do I use concealer. being ghost white with auburn hair, in my opinion I'm too fair for mascara and eye liner to suit me. I love having nice clothes on, even making an effort for my school uniform to be stylish, but there are 2 things that bother me: 1. my eczema. I'm growing out of it, but its so irritating! especially on bad eczema days, when I walk into school with this red face! at least moisturiser exists! 2. my hair! I'm so fussy about it that I can't walk outside the house with a single knot! but no one should really stress about their looks, you are all way prettier than those bony photo shopped orange bleached blonde sticks in bikinis on magazine covers. having so many imperfections adds up to one thing those girls never had : perfection!

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