Like most 10-year-old girls, my daughter loves to shop at Justice. So I was flipping through the latest Justice catalog that came in the mail, and I noticed a disturbing trend. Before I point out the obvious, see if you can see what's wrong with the following pictures:
OK, so besides the fact that these supposedly "tween" girls look about 18 years old, did you notice anything else?
How about the fact that all the girls have the exact same body shape? They are all tall and skinny with long arms and legs. They are all the same height and weight. Even all of their arms are the same length. Creepy, right?
Now think about how your daughter must feel to see an entire catalog full of girls "her age" wearing the clothes "everyone has to wear," yet she doesn't look at all like these girls. She's not as tall as they are. Her clothes don't fit her the same way. Her hair isn't as shiny as theirs, and her teeth aren't as straight and white.
After looking at this catalog, I decided to have a conversation with my daughter about body image. I asked her if there was something strange about all the girls in this magazine, and at first she wasn't sure. But when I pointed out that all the girls looked the same, she realized what I was talking about and wanted to know why.
I explained to her that companies like Justice choose girls that look a certain way to model their clothes. I also mentioned how the girls in the television shows my daughter watches tend to look the same way, such as the girls in "A.N.T. Farm," "Shake It Up," and "Austin and Ally" (although the Trish character in this show doesn't fit the mold).
We talked about how the media makes some girls think that their bodies aren't good enough if they don't look like the girls in the magazines. I pointed out to her that only a small handful of her friends look anything like the girls in those pictures. She has friends of all shapes and sizes, and it's all OK.
She seemed to understand what I was saying, and I was glad that we had that talk. Now I need to start preparing myself for the real girls who will soon start telling my daughter she's not pretty enough or tall enough or skinny enough. She will be in middle school next year, so it won't be long now.
I could be outraged with Justice for promoting this unrealistic body image to young girls. But I actually saw it as an excellent opportunity to talk with my daughter about her own body image and to reinforce her unique beauty. Fortunately, she has high self esteem and doesn't feel the need to compare herself to others. She's happy just the way she is. I hope her confidence is strong enough to get her through her teenage years in one piece.