“No boy will ever like you, if you keep on gaining so much weight!”
Harsh but words all too common for most young girls all over the world. With the beauty and advertising industry continuously injecting hidden messages like 'flawless is beautiful' and 'size zero' is perfection, we are all prey to the vicious cycle — body shaming rooting towards low body esteem.
On 7 October, 2017 Dove Bangladesh and The Daily Star arranged for a roundtable to address such matters, and its negative consequences in the lives of young girls. The discussion was timed with the International Day of the Girl Child observed around the world on 11 October. Eminent citizens from diverse walks of life had been invited as guests; young girls, who actually face the trauma in real life, have also been invited as panelists to speak out their concerns.
WHY THE DISCUSSION?
A recent comprehensive report developed under the Dove Self-Esteem Project examined 5165 girls aged 10-17, across 14 countries all over the world. The study revealed details; for instance, more than 54 percent of girls across the globe are dissatisfied with their body image. The report also uncovers a clear and powerful connection between a girl's level of body esteem and her overall confidence and self-satisfaction.
A more distressing picture is revealed in a study by Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, Associate Professor, Centre for Appearance Research, University of England which reveals that girls who nurture negative body image are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, depression, and low self- esteem; they also get poor grades in school, nurture suicidal tendencies, get involved in drug and alcohol abuse, suffer from eating disorders, and practice risky sexual behaviour.
GIRLS AND BEAUTY CONFIDENCE: THE GLOBAL REPORT
THE DAUNTING RESULTS
* New research from Dove indicates that low body esteem is a critical issue among girls globally, directly impacting their confidence and life satisfaction.
* 8 in 10 girls (79 percent) with low body esteem will not attend fundamental activities outside the house or engage with friends and loved ones, vs. 4 in 10 (39 percent) with high body esteem.
* 7 in 10 girls (75 percent) with low body esteem will put their health at risk by not seeing a doctor or skipping meals, vs. 3 in 10 (31 percent) with high body esteem.
* A girl's level of body esteem directly impacts how she sees the world. Girls with high body esteem are more resilient to life's pressures.
* 7 in 10 girls (74 percent) with low body esteem feel pressure to feel beautiful, vs. 5 in 10 (48 percent) with high body esteem.
* 7 in 10 girls (65 percent) with low body esteem say they feel worse about themselves when they look at images of beautiful girls in magazines compared to just 2 in 10 (16 percent) for those with high body esteem.
GIRLS AND BEAUTY CONFIDENCE: THE GLOBAL REPORT
THE RAY OF HOPE
* Girls are becoming more aware of the pressures they face and are looking for ways to drive change.
* 8 in 10 (82 percent) agree all girls have something about them that is beautiful.
* Nearly all girls (82 percent) aged 10-17 say that taking time to do things that make them feel happy about themselves, their bodies and their health (e.g. reading a book or exercising) makes them feel more confident.
Based on the results of the comprehensive report developed by Dove, we were able to asses that globally girls want that the media not judge them unswervingly based on looks alone, but also gave merit to their thoughts, talents and hard work.
As a witness of time, we cannot simply turn a blind eye, as the signs are everywhere! We must agree that too much importance being placed on beauty is having a detrimental effect on the girl's attitude towards life.
AS A CONCLUSION WE TRANSCRIBE FROM THE REPORT:
According to Jess Weiner, Cultural Expert and Adjunct Professor, University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Journalism, body esteem can be boosted through education and open dialogue.
Weiner proposed the solution to lie in increased media representation revealing girls from all cultural backgrounds and experiences and the introduction of a curriculum focused media literacy, helping girls to identify and actively combat the negative gender stereotypes, violence and hyper-sexualisation.
Keeping in mind that that the world's 1.1 billion girls are a source of inspiration and energy. Let us work on this together, initiating change and eradicating 'body-shaming and low body-esteem' from all walks of life , once and for all.
Thanks to Dove Bangladesh for sharing with us 'The 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report.'
Watch out for The Daily Star and Star Lifestyle's special features on Body Shaming in the following weeks to come. To view the companion video, keep your eyes on 'Star Live' — the official YouTube channel of The Daily Star.