Wednesday, 21 March 2012

When kids have body image issues, you know society's collapse is nigh

A friend of mine wrote on FB this morning that her 5-year old daughter told her that she thought she wasn't blonde or thin enough. That is so wrong, horrible and heartbreaking in oh so many ways. It makes me so sad that a little child would have this twisted, negative perception of herself.

Make no mistake. Even little children can have body image issues, deny food, think badly of themselves. Where it comes from is anyone's guess, but most likely it is from their peers. 5-year olds can say some mean things sometimes, but it would be just as mean and wrong to blame them for the things they say. They don't exist in bubbles, in isolation from society. Rather they are receptacles for all the junk society throws at them. Maybe they picked up these body image criticisms from their parents and just repeated them. Or maybe they just saw something on TV or in magazines.

And that's my biggest issue right there. There is a flood of biblical proportions when it comes to skinny, ”perfect” women in magazines and TV. Hell, even the women in children's films look like supermodels (I'm looking at you, Disney). So how is a little child of 5 to apply any critical thinking when they are so bombarded with these images that they think that that's the norm, when it's clearly the exception? That this is what women are supposed to look like? And don't even get me started on Barbie dolls.

There are so many sides to this issue that stretch beyond the scope of this blog; feminist, sociological, psychological. But ask yourself why the skinny, slightly unhealthy-looking, under-aged supermodel look has become the beauty ideal in today's society. Why should women strive to become like that, when the road to get there is a road of starvation and self-punishment? When women exercise not in order to stay healthy or to feel good, but just so that they can get the perfect bikini body? What kind of sick SOB pushes these ideals, and what is their agenda?

When a country that is supposed to be among the most tolerant on the planet has members that publicly humiliate and bully others because they look ”different” (like, for example, because they have hairy armpits – oh noes!), we have a long way to go as humans. There are no easy solutions to problems like these. But, parents, please teach your children to love themselves and others just the way they are. Teach them to think for themselves and not mindlessly accept what the media tells them. Teach them to be open and kind.

Man it's a jungle out there.

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