The transition from teen to young adult is a journey of self-discovery and growth. This transformation can be inspiring but also confusing. Young girls often face an additional challenge: overcoming the media’s interpretation of what it means to be a woman. From television shows to movies to magazines, girls are constantly surrounded by the media’s portrayal of the ideal woman. Usually, the ideal woman is thin, young, and seemingly flawless. White women in particular are disproportionately represented in the media, creating a void of diversity that perpetuates inequality. A woman's value as an individual is portrayed as dependent on her physical appearance. As a result, it’s easy for girls to feel pressured into looking and behaving a specific way and going to extreme measures to achieve the “perfect look”.
Check out model and author Cameron Russell unpack some of these challenges:
It’s important to critique the media that surrounds us in order to identify the unrealistic expectations placed on girls. We wrote before about the wonderful organization Miss Representation and the amazing work they're doing to encourage, empower and educate the public on how to impact the media's portrayal of women and girls. In our therapy groups, body image is a regular topic of discussion, and having an ongoing conversation about the role of media in shaping our self-image is a critical step in creating a more positive sense of self, based on more than appearance and clothes.
Here are some ways you can take action to create the change you wish to see.