praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. – Psalm 139:13-14.
Thin is in – at least that’s what society is telling us. If you are not a size 2-4, you are considered fat. We see these beautiful, thin models in magazines and on runways, and we are jealous; some of us even go as far as doing everything in our power to look just like them, not thinking of the serious consequences.
We get so caught up in the images on the pages that we don’t take the time to consider what those models go through – not eating for days, taking laxatives, watching their own hair fall out, not to mention the very real and constant fear of passing out.
In 2006, USA Today asked, “Do thin models warp girls’ body image?” Reporter Bru Garcia interviewed former Victoria’s Secret model Frederique van der Wal, and her observation was, “This unnatural thinness is a terrible message to send out.”1
Sarah Murnen, professor of psychology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, said, “The promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don’t like their bodies, and body dissatisfaction can lead girls to participate in very unhealthy behaviors to try to control weight.”2
In our minds, we see only the glitz and glamour of these women. But the resulting erosion of our personal self-worth is tremendous. A couple years ago, a company stood up for the beauty of real women and started to fight our society’s misconception of what’s “in.”
Started in 2004, the stated mission of Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty was to make more women feel beautiful every day by widening stereotypical views of beauty. 3
Dove found that seven of every 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school, and relationships with friends and family members. They also found that only two percent of women around the world describe themselves as beautiful. 4
In response, Dove decided to provide positive self-esteem tools for girls like workshops, information, and online activities.
During the fifth season of American Idol, a 29-year-old woman from Antioch, Tennessee, traveled to Chicago to audition for her chance at stardom. While the judges did recognize her amazing voice, American Idol judge Simon Cowell felt the need to make a wisecrack about her weight.
Mandisa did not win American Idol, but she did sign a contract with Sparrow Records and, since then, she has written a book and released two CDs. Mandisa’s ministry is to share Christ’s love through music and spread the message of true beauty. In her YouTube interview with Seventeen Magazine, she said:
When I was seventeen, I wish that I had known not to let society dictate what true beauty is. You know, for so long I’ve looked at magazine covers and music videos and beauty pageants and I thought that I had to live up to that standard of beauty.
What I’ve come to learn now is that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and that you don’t have to be a size two. You don’t have to be blonde haired and blue eyed in order to fit what the definition of beauty is. I’m a firm believer that true beauty shines from the inside out and I believe that if you have inner beauty that will shine on your face that your countenance will become beautiful and that people will be drawn to that.
So if I can encourage you girls with anything I want to let you know that you are beautiful and that if you cultivate inner beauty that people will be able to recognize that and that will make you beautiful on the outside.5
In addition to Mansida, many other Christian artists are raising awareness of positive body image, including Jonny Diaz, Barlow Girl, Britt Nicole and more.
To help your children have a happy, healthy lifestyle, you can follow a few tips:
Set healthy examples through words and actions. Monitor and discuss media images your children see. Encourage your children to develop healthy eating and exercise habits that do not border on extremes. Tell and show your children that they are accepted and loved at any weight. Praise them for characteristics other than appearance. Teach your children to feel good about who they are and the body they have.”6
To help start the conversation with your daughter about positive body image, watch the music video, “More Beautiful You,” by Jonny Diaz.
Do Thin Models Warp Girls’ Body Image, USA Today, (September 26, 2006), accessed at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-09-25-thin-models_x.htm, (July 15, 2010). Ibid. Campaign for Real Beauty Mission, Dove, (March 14, 2008), accessed at http://www.dove.us/#/CFRB/arti_CFRB.aspx[cp-documentid=7049726], (July 22, 2010). Ibid. American Idol – Mandisa and Seventeen, You Tube, (August 14, 2007), accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH_eDgwb1Is, July 23, 2010. Body image distortion: Mirror on wall can misguide all, study finds, The Bolingbrook Sun, (July 14, 2010), accessed at http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/bolingbrooksun/lifestyles/2493852,4_5_JO14_IMAGE_S1-100714.article, (July 16, 2010).