but, the interesting thing is that their peers, family, friends and young boys are basing their opinion of what these girls should look like from what they see in the media.
Main Cause of Poor Body Images in Young Girls
The media has been with us for years and it is here to stay. There are good aspects of this industry because it serves to keep us informed and aware of what is happening in the world around us. The media can also be viewed negatively because of some of the television programs that are out there today. Technology is so advanced that we can now watch our favorite television shows and read our favorite fashion magazines right from our cell phones. We can assume that as the years go by, technology will get more advanced and the role of the media will become even more prominent.
Such outlets as music videos and certain television shows are aimed at the younger generation. They portray images of young women that are flawless and their looked becomes the desired look of young girls all over. Many parents may not even be aware that their young daughters suffer from such a poor body image because they more than likely had the same issues while growing up. Furthermore, their mothers probably still suffer from a poor body image to a certain extent because the media does not stop at young girls. It generally makes women of all ages feel that they do not measure up to the images they see on television and in magazines. This causes issues such as depression and low self-esteem. If conditions such as this are not properly diagnosed and left untreated, they can snowball into even bigger issues.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Since the media isn't going anywhere and will continue to present images to young girls to make them feel inferior, diagnosis and treatment is important. Depression and low self-esteem may not appear to be serious health issues, but they are because they can be debilitating and make it difficult for the young girls to function and behave normally in society. In order to diagnose depression and low self-esteem, young girls should be given a battery of questions and possibly participate in small focus groups to get feedback on how the media affects how they view themselves. Studies much like the one done by Bell, Lawton and Dittmar are a good place to start because it reveal that the visual effects of the music videos were instrumental in how the young girls view their own bodies (2007).
Focus groups are also a good idea because it will give the young ladies an opportunity to share their feelings about their body image and realize that they are not alone in how they feel. While it may not be easy to do, the young girls' parents should also play a role in the study because the messages that they relay to their daughters about how they should look are important. Parents should know that they are capable of thwarting the negative messages their young girls see in the media. While they cannot block every television show or shield their daughter from every aspect of what is considered beautiful, they can strengthen their daughters body images and self-esteem by constantly feeding them positive affirmations.
Young girls are prone to suffer from depression if they begin to feel they are not fulfilling the images portrayed in the media on how they should look. Depression is not always easy to treat and medication should not be sought as a first choice in treatment. There are so many drugs on the market manufactured to treat depression and while some are generally good, medication is not always the best option. If the depression is mild and not severe, counseling and self-help may be the best remedies. In order to combat depression, the young girls must be willing to follow the treatment plan prescribed.
Cutting back on watching so much television is necessary. For instance, if the girls say they watch an average of twenty hours of television per week they may need to cut back to perhaps ten hours per week. Also, the quality of the programs they watch should be changed. They should focus more on educational or history shows instead of what is popular in the age group. If they are athletically inclined, playing sports will be helpful since studies show that young women who play sports generally have a better body image (Worell and Goodheart, p. 72). Young girls also have to be selective with their choice of friends and surround themselves only with those friends who are non-judgemental of their looks.
The treatment for low self-esteem is much the same as the treatment for depression. However, parents do play a large role in shaping their children. Whether children, especially teenagers want to admit it or not, they value the opinion of their parents are care what their parents think of them. It is especially important that the young girls' mother has a healthy body image and is not affected by images of other women in the media. This could be one of the first steps to the young girls' recovery. If the mother is confident in who she is, she can pass these values down to her daughters and boost their self-confidence also.
Fathers also play an important role in boosting their young girls' self-esteem. They can show their daughter that they value them by the way that they treat their wives. If a young girl comes from a positive environment where there is genuine love and deep affection on the part of her parents, she is more than likely to be self-confident instead of having low self-esteem. Fathers should be mindful to compliment their wives, even when she may not be at her best. Young girls need to see these images for themselves to know that they do not have to look like a supermodel in order for someone else to see them as beautiful individuals.
Again, it is extremely important that young girls surround themselves with positive people. This includes their girlfriends and especially the young boys that they may be friendly with. They should not allow anyone, especially a male to belittle them and criticize their looks. If this happens they should immediately cut the person out of their lives. The last thing they need on their road to recovery is someone who is comparing them to an image on television or in a music video who spent hours in the makeup and hair chair in order to look the way that they do.
Counseling sessions would be helpful for these young girls. Regular counseling not only helps the psychologist measure the girls' progress, but it also serves as a means for the young ladies to vent and deal with any other issues they are having regarding their body images. The treatment would have to be an ongoing process until the psychologist and the young girl feel that they can deal with their issues. Dealing with depression and low self-esteem are issues that cannot and will not be cured over night. There may be periods where the individual will lapse into old habits and ways of thinking. This is why a strong support group is necessary and the girls need not rely on the help of parents and their psychologist as their sole method of support. They would do well to form support groups with each other to help one another through the difficult times.
The solution to improving the negative images that young girls have of themselves is not to get rid of media altogether. For one, this is virtually impossible and it is also not feasible because the media does serve its purpose of providing information as well as entertainment to the masses. In order to combat the poor body images that young girls have of themselves, careful consideration of what is viewed on television and seen in magazines is important. For younger girls, parents must restrict the amount of television watched as well as the types of magazines that they may have subscriptions to.
These actions alone will not completely protect their girls from the media images. Once they step outside their parent's homes they will still be exposed to images everywhere. However, if there are restrictions at home where certain televisions shows are replaced with more meaningful and educational ones, and if the girls are constantly giving positive reinforcement from their parents, they will then have a strong foundation on which to base their opinions of their bodies on.
The main cause of poor body image in young girls may be the media and there is not much we can do to stop this. However, there are certain actions that can be taken within the home by the parents that will ensure that their girls are grounded and know who they are. These young girls need to know that…