Recently, I was intrigued by a link on Facebook to a TEDx talk titled The Epidemic of Beauty Sickness given by Dr. Renee Englen. I am having some issues embedding video on my blog so please click here to be directed to the video.
The video is only fifteen minutes long and I think all women and all mother’s of girls should watch it. That said, if you are feeling a time crunch, I just watched it and would love to share what I learned. Or perhaps I shouldn’t say ‘learned’ because I knew most of what Dr. Englen presented. In fact, just this morning I commented on a blog post written by Shannan Younger of Tween Us titled, “Why I’m an Exhausted Mom Even Though My Kid is as Tween.” In this post, Shannan discusses the bone weary fatigue she is feeling as she steers her tween in to this new phase of life.
So much of the parenting I am doing now is emotional. Gone are the days of chasing a non-stop toddler and here are the days of answering and asking the big questions. Watching The Epidemic of Beauty Sickness was disturbing but it was also validating. I am most certainly not the only one who must constantly remind her daughter that she is so much more than the size of her thighs.
Here are a few take aways from the TEDx talk…
Englen in her work as a researcher has found that no matter how smart woman are, they are consumed by the quest for beauty. They will look at an image of a woman who is too thin and state as much but in the next sentence will say that they feel a need to be like that model. There were 1.2 million plastic surgeries in the United States in 2012 and 90% of those patients were women.
Englen states that instead of looking out at the world world women spend their time analyzing how the world is seeing them. She wonders how women can chronically monitor their body’s appearance and still be engaged with the world.
And the most staggering statistic she presented was from Esquire. It reads, “54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.” When Englen presented this stat to a room of graduate students, she anticipated great disgust. Instead she received questions like “How big is the truck?” “How fast is it going?” and “How much do you think the truck would hurt?”
As she talks about ways to change the tide, she made a few interesting suggestions. She wonders,
Why not limit ‘mirror time’ in the same way we limit screen time?
Why not tell girls they are generous, hardworking, brave or persistent instead of pretty?
Why not encourage girls to think of their body as a whole that does things instead of parts that are looking at?
Why not indeed?