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.: April 2009 --> Beauty Obsession, and its effects on children

Beauty Obsession, and its effects on children

» I understand that it's more complex than this, but when I think about our culture's obsession with beauty - and especially the ways in which its relentless marketing affects our children - I feel that we're more misogynistic than we ever have been.

Four years ago, a survey by the NPD Group showed that, on average, women began using beauty products at 17. Today, the average is 13 - and that's got to be an overstatement. According to market-research firm Experian, 43 percent of 6- to 9-year-olds are already using lipstick or lip gloss; 38 percent use hairstyling products; and 12 percent use other cosmetics. [...]
[T]hese days, body dissatisfaction begins in grammar school. According to a 2004 study by the Dove Real Beauty campaign, 42 percent of first- to third-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat. "When you have tweens putting on firming cream" - as was revealed by 1 percent of girls in an NPD study - "it's clear they're looking for imaginary flaws," says Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff. [...]
Susie Orbach's new book, "Bodies," [...] argues that good looks and peak fitness are no longer a biological gift, but a ceaseless pursuit. And obsession at an early age, she says, fosters a belief that these are essential components of who we are - not, as she puts it, "lovely add-ons." "It primes little girls to think they should diet and dream about the cosmetic-surgery options available to them, and it makes body the primary place for self-identity. (Emphasis mine.)"

This video says the same thing more powerfully yet. I always cry when I watch it, that beautiful little face, so full of hope, and so unprepared for a childhood filled with an unrelenting emphasis on, and implicit and explicit criticism of, how she looks.

I have yet to see an article examining the effect these unrealistic media images have on young men. How do you judge women - how do you rate your in-every-way extraordinary girlfriend - compared to the ideals of beauty you've been constantly surrounded with?

 [ 04.24.09 ]



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