Bravo to the Big Apple for its new campaign to improve the self-esteem of young girls! The city is spending $330,000 on this endeavor, which has been called the NYC Girls Project. There are bus ads, subway ads and a 30 second video to be shown in taxicabs, on YouTube, and the campaign’s website.
The slogan associated with this movement is, “I am beautiful the way I am.” It is a nice sentiment but there are some complaints that to use the word “beautiful” defeats the whole point. The stated goal of the movement is to get girls to see themselves as worthy, valuable, lovable people separate and apart from their appearance. I can certainly see the point that those who object to the slogan are making, but overall this is a step in the right direction.
In addition to the media deluge there will also be physical fitness classes, an after school program addressing issues of self-esteem and the Twitter campaign #ImAGirl. The effort is tremendous and aimed at girls 7 to 12 years old. These are crucial years of development for young girls and the statistics surrounding this age group are staggering.
Apparently, according to The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing
80% of girls 10 years old are fearful that they are fat and self-esteem drops for girls 12 and older and doesn’t improve until the age of 20. The drop is primarily due to poor body image. These are sad facts and we can spend a great deal of time blaming the media and a culture of “thin” but we would be more effective addressing it head on and preparing our girls for what they will invariably encounter in the world.
It seems to me that this is precisely what NYC is doing. We will never be able to completely revamp the images our young girls are exposed to and let’s face it; some people are objectively more attractive than others. What we can do is shift the focus and importance of appearance to more lasting meaningful attributes. There are, of course, many ways to be beautiful and there is some level of subjectivity in any esthetic, so convincing girls that they are all fashion model material is not the goal. Instead, teaching girls to accept themselves for who they are and how they have been created, as a unique individual, will have a much more profound and long-term effect.
What NYC is doing is a great start and I hope to see campaigns such as this spread across the nation.
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