One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. Body image is a critical topic with girls – it affects their confidence, self-worth, and ultimately their mental health.
We recently had an honest and open discussion about body image with two girls from our Empower Clubs – Reanna in New York, and Imani in California.
Here are five key things the girls shared, for adults to remember:
1. Don’t talk about our bodies, even what you think are compliments reinforce stereotypes.
“A lot of it is with family sometimes and friends. They’ll make comments about my body, without even really realizing, they’re enforcing some kind of stereotype. For example, I have been losing weight because of something going on external, and I didn’t feel good. But for other people they told me “Oh, you look better this way, you look healthier” and I was actually not healthy. I was actually very skinny. And it wasn’t in a healthy way. I had to start gaining more weight. It kind of made me feel insecure because even a harmless comment like that, telling me I look better and healthier, was not as helpful to me as they might have thought.” – Reanna
2. We are working on letting go of things and calling in self love, are you?
“Something I’m letting go of is letting people tear me down because they decide to make fun of me because of the way I look. I have more confidence now and I’m accepting myself.” – Imani
“I’m appreciating the fact that the features I have make me uniquely me. The things I have are where I come from, my family. It is beautiful the way that it is.” – Reanna
3. We have new role models and they’re using their voices to spread messages about body positivity.
“People like Doja Cat, they love making music about being body positive, and Lizzo as well. Doja Cat she’s an inspiration to me… She’s always been about owning who you are, “you’re beautiful”, like her song Juicy… And definitely programs like these, Girls Leadership, you … are all about owning yourself, loving who you are, and making sure you’re confident. Having more of those things can help girls like us really be more comfortable in who we are and love ourselves a bit more because definitely when I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence I have now.” – Reanna
4. Actually, your opinions aren’t what matters most to us.
“It don’t matter what anybody thinks about you. What matters the most is you, yourself. Always put yourself first, because you putting yourself first always will help you be able to help others… Make sure you fill your cup up enough to fill others up.” – Reanna
5. At the end of the day, it isn’t about our bodies, it’s about our power.
“It didn’t matter what the other person said, even if it hurt a lot, because it does. …You have to remember that at the end of the day it’s you and yourself, it’s not you and someone else. It’s just you. So, just make sure that you don’t let people weigh you down because if you do that’s how they get their power, and they’re stealing from you, and you need your power to shine.” – Imani
Open up conversations like this with the girls in your life through our Girl & Grown-Up Workshops.
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