One of the reason’s I wanted to go into journalism was to write those feel good stories that most everyone loves to read. Sure the hard hitting, news-worthy articles are important, but I think those stories that make people think and those that bring awareness to issues are important too. For me, those that especially touch my heart are the ones that encourage young women to love themselves.
You know that when I come across an article I love, I always want to share it with my readers as well. Yesterday while perusing the Internet, I came across this little gem:
A 14-year-old girl, Julia Bluhm is an activist who is challenging the media to take responsibility for how it affects young girls’ self esteem. That’s right, at the age of 14 Julia already realizes the problem with the message being sent to her and her peers regarding physical looks. I don’t know about you, but 14 was quite the growing age for me. I think middle school is such a tough time for girls and this was definitely the age I first started to notice how women looked in fashion magazines, on television, in movies, etc. However, at this age I also didn’t realize that everything in the media should be taken with a grain of salt and not everyone looks as perfect, or has as perfect of a life, as it is represented in all of these media outlets I was seeing.
Julia has started a petition asking Seventeen magazine to print one un-retouched photo per month in its magazine. She also led a protest outside of Seventeen magazine’s office in Manhattan on Wednesday morning.
"To girls today, the word ‘pretty’ means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It’s because the media tells us that ‘pretty’ girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin.” – Julia Bluhm
Okay, we can’t all lead a protest in New York City, and we may not feel ready to create a petition for change, but we as women can encourage young girls around us to love themselves everyday. Any impact we make is a huge one and it is important that these girls realize that 99% of what they see in media is false, it is an illusion! Although these young girls look up to the celebrities they see on television, I would safely guess that most of these girls look up to their moms, sisters, aunts, etc. more than they even do the girls on their favorite tv shows. I am so proud of Julia Bluhm and the national coverage she is creating at such a young age. However, we can be our own ‘Julia Bluhm’ in our homes, or at work, or in the school systems. I am not a mom yet, but I pray everyday that one day I will be the best mom I can be. I hope to encourage my daughters, and hopefully my daughters’ friends, that they are enough and are perfect in everyway. It took me until just the last couple of years to truly find my own personal love for myself, and I don’t want my girls to ever doubt their inner beauty for a second. However, I know life is not perfect and they will feel down at times. My mom was absolutely amazing and still is to this day, always encouraging and loving, but I still struggled with self-love. When my daughter doubts herself, that is when I will pray that I can be the strongest I’ve ever been and am there for her everyday as long as I live.
If you want to read more about Julia, check her out on SPARK, a non-profit organization for 13 to 22 year-olds, where she blogs about girls and self-esteem. Julia even has the American Medical Association on her side:
In June 2011, they (American Medical Association) issued a press release stating, "A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems." Board member Barbara L. McAneny, MD, added, "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software."
I challenge you today, this weekend, or next week to make a difference in a young girls life, or a woman’s life. Let’s be honest, I may be 23 years old, but I need encouragement as well! I sometimes forget that those gorgeous super models, beautiful actresses, and pretty singers have their own issues too and don’t wake up everyday looking like a million bucks. Let’s encourage our moms, sister, friends, co-workers, etc. to remember how perfect they are. Also, remind them that they aren’t ever alone in their struggles. Here is a devotion that my mom sent me this morning that spoke to me:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4-6
Make this Thursday a great one!
What do you think about how the media re-touches photos?
How can we encourage women/girls everyday to love themselves from the inside out?
What do you think of Julia Bluhm’s campaign?
Do you ever need a reminder of what’s real and not real in the media world?