Stacey Loscalzo

Sep 17

A TEDx Talk: The Epidemic of Beauty Sickness

by Stacey


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?



  1. Allie says:

    I’m kind of scared to watch it. My 10 year old has recently said a few things that made me nervous. I just don’t know how to handle this. When did it get like this? I honestly don’t remember this as a child. I also don’t think the era of selfies/duck faces is helping matters.

  2. Kristen says:

    I love when you find these things for us to ponder, Stacey. Off to watch it now, but based on what you’ve written so far, I am going to be glad I did considering my daughter is only 7 and I (hopefully!) have some time to get ready for the phase that looms before me.

  3. Tamara says:

    I’m often anxious knowing this will come up in our household. My daughter is five now and seems to have no awareness of this, but she so will. I’m scared.

  4. Stacey, you are such a savvy mom. You are doing a wonderful job just being aware of the issues and helping to steer your girls toward a healthy self-image. Goodness, I remember those days when I was young. I think you know I modeled for Elite during those years, which probably made the issue of self-esteem, self-image, and comparison impossible to navigate well. It’s a trying time. I can only imagine how it is with daughters (boys definitely don’t have it in the same way). Weight, beauty, the quest to be someone we’re not — I don’t think it ever really goes away, even as we age. Thanks for tackling something so important and relevant. xoxo

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