Since 2009, I have been writing about body image as it pertains to the world of fashion (along with other aspects of the industry) and my most popular post on the topic was the piece about Abercrombie and Fitch’s push-up bra for young girls. The garment, marketed to girls as young as 7, caused such a stink among consumers I believe it was yanked from the shelves almost as quickly as it went up.
Now that my two little girls are 12 and 8, the issues around clothing and body image resonate more deeply and I’ve become increasingly concerned with the sexualization of young girls and the impact that might have on their psyche. I’ve led workshops with young girls on the truth about the fashion and beauty industries’ digitally altered and enhanced images and their narrow standards of beauty. I’m still fascinated to discover that many girls and women are unaware that fashion advertising images are not entirely realistic, and it’s important to get that message out.
I trained as a Girls Circle facilitator, a research-based approach to creating a safe and structured space for adolescent girls to connect with one another simply by taking turns talking about their feelings and concerns. A “talking stick” is passed around to indicate who has the floor, and interruptions, advice-giving, and gossip are prohibited. What’s said in Girls Circle stays in Girls Circle, unless the safety of one of the girls is compromised as in an abuse situation. The girls also have the opportunity to express themselves creatively through writing, drawing, dance, collage, and drama.
I’m hosting my next Girls Circle this summer in July and August, an 8-week session on body image for girls 10-14. I’ve learned that body image is the #1 factor in predicting self-esteem and that Girls Circle participants demonstrate a significant improvement in their perception of their physical appearance, as well as improvements in relationships, and expressing their needs to adults. Long-term benefits include reductions in alcohol use and other self-harming behaviours. So, if you’e a mom in the Toronto area or you know one whose daughter will benefit from a Girls Circle, leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click to find all the details at my Girls Circle blog.