Size zero, celeb culture causing schoolgirls to develop ‘distorted’ body image: Senior schoolteacherNovember 14th, 2007 - 10:29 am ICT by admin
According to Girls’ Schools Association, Pat Langham, the celeb culture defines women in terms of what handbag they carry, rather than their character.
She also voiced concern over the message being sent to girls by celebrities such as Kate Moss, whose career did not seem to suffer after she was questioned by police over allegations of drug-taking.
In a speech to the association’s annual conference this week, Langham will talk about the almost inevitable pressures on girls - fuelled by celebrity and teen magazines, music videos and film and television - to act, look and dress in a certain way.
“The right handbag, the more expensive the better, says what kind of person you are - what kind of message is that to give out?” the Telegraph quoted her, as saying.Girls want to look good. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when it is taken to extremes, you get the unattainable. Girls are developing a distorted idea of body image, so we get the size zero debate. There are young girls wanting cosmetic surgery and various enhancements.
“We need to teach the difference between the facade and the reality. I was delighted when I asked my girls recently if they had watched Wags’ Boutique [featuring the partners of footballers] and whether they would like to be a Wag, and they said ‘no, they’re stupid’. It might be an unfair generalisation but it shows a certain level of discernment.
” It is estimated that eating disorders now affect one girl in every 100. Earlier this year the first national study of anorexia in younger children disclosed that girls as young as eight had been diagnosed,” she added.
A recent survey found that just eight per cent of 14-year-old girls were happy with their bodies. Seven out of 10 said they would be 100 per cent happier if they could lose half a stone and four in 10 had considered plastic surgery. Two thirds of the 2,000 girls blamed celebrities with “perfect bodies” and boys for their negative body image.
In a study, by Girlguiding UK this year, of the 3,200 young women, more than half said the media made them feel that “being pretty and thin” was the “most important thing”. The most influential role models, cited by 95 per cent of girls, were Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham.
However, Langham said that she is concerned about role models such as Moss, adding, “Teenagers need to see people who have broken the law suffer the consequences. It is not a good message if young people can see celebrities getting away with something because they are famous.”
She further said that schools need to teach “refusal skills” to give pupils the confidence to say no to damaging behaviour.
“We want girls to be able to differentiate between what glistens and what is truly golden. Parents want a school where there are shared values and respect, where character is more important than appearances, where girls strive to have true friends rather than to be on the periphery of the in-crowd. They need to be taught to resist the pressures,” she said.
Emma Healey, the operations director at Beat, an eating disorder charity, said: “The contradictory messages going out - where on one page of a magazine there’s a bikini diet and on the other an article about how to feel good about yourself - are hugely confusing.
“At the heart of eating disorders lies low self-esteem. Continually being measured against some kind of bizarre ‘gold standard’ that we see in magazines and on television is damaging,” she added. (ANI)
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