In a world where young celebrities are getting plastic surgery and even teens are turning to Botox, it’s no wonder so many young girls feel anxious about their own looks. And if a girl manages to avoid the pitfalls of celebrity-induced body-insecurity, the teen magazines will get her. Packed with Photo-shopped images of impossibly thin models and articles about how to achieve that imagined perfection, even the most confident girl is bound to feel a twinge of doubt when she looks in the mirror.
But what if celebrities and magazines both got realistic about beauty? What if the message was more about loving yourself the way you are and less about trying to persuade girls that there’s a one-size-fits-all definition of beauty? Then we’d be living in Penelope Cruz’ perfect world.
The newly-married actress recently told Britain’s You magazine that if she were in charge, she “would close down all those teenage magazines that encourage young girls to diet.”
“Who says that to be pretty you have to be thin? Some people look better thin and some don’t. There is almost a standard being created where only thin is acceptable. The influence of those magazines on girls as young as 13 is horrific.”
There’s no “almost” about it. Thin is in. And while Cruz is correct about the impact this unrealistic beauty standard can have on girls, she missed the mark by assuming the damage begins at 13. My 9-year-old isn’t allowed to read magazines that feature celebrities or beauty tips, but her friends are. And at least one of them – a perfectly lovely third-grader – already complains about feeling fat and ugly. She is neither.
I know that the chances of Hollywood and magazine publishers suddenly coming to their senses is remote at best. And I also know that as my girl gets older, it will become more difficult to keep her from being exposed to this screwed up message about beauty. So I fight it in other ways.
On television and out in the real world, I point out girls of all shapes, sizes and colors who are beautiful. We talk a lot about inner beauty and how that’s more important than what’s on the outside. But the most important thing I do to promote self-love is to simply love myself. Like Cruz, I intend to grow old gracefully and never lie about my age. I don’t diet, talk about weight or fret over what size clothes I wear. And I don’t read beauty magazines.
How do you keep your daughter’s self-esteem intact when everyone else is striving to be impossibly perfect?
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