Club 21 “Girl World” exposed: Binge Drinking, Bullying, Low Self Esteem, and Distorted Body Image

The Body Image Resource Blog wants to thank Dannielle Miller, CEO Enlighten Education, for this great guest post. Dannielle Miller is coming to the Kiss My Assets Blog from Australia with some pretty shocking information that every parent and educator should know. She focuses on an exclusive popularity clique, called Club 21, in which girls’ worth is based on looks and their popularity among the boys.

Queensland (Australia) school girls have formed an exclusive club, known as Club 21, which encourages members to be ranked between 1 and 21 based on their thinness, good looks, binge drinking escapades and popularity with boys. This number is then drawn on their hand for all to see.

The club not only operates at St Patrick’s Mackay, but has gone global via the internet and chat rooms.

This story has caused significant shock in the media. However it is unlikely this type of bullying – of each other and those who didn’t make it into the club – came as a shock to many teen girls. It was likely no surprise to their teachers either, who witness the various manifestations of the “Compare and Despair” game that teen girls are so good at playing, in playgrounds right across Australia. Recent studies show three out of five teen girls report being teased about their appearance at school. Girls in particular judge themselves and each other on how they look and on how popular they are with with other girls, and with boys.

When I was a teen girl at high school much of lunch time was spent rating our peers. It was our own little real life version of the magazines we grew up with that asked us, in virtually every issue, to decide whether particular clothes were in, or whether a celebrity was hot or not. We felt powerful playing these games – we may not have been able to control many elements of our lives, but we tried to control how we looked through diets, and we could definitely control each other through ridicule.

We may not have had a number reflecting these scores branded on our hands, but the scores were branded on our psyches.

The rules in girl rating games, both then and now, are not difficult to follow. Be considered hot by your peers and in particular by boys – and score points. Getting a highly desired boyfriend means an instant advance to the top of the club. I was lucky enough to have landed the school “spunk” at one stage and was elevated from classroom “brainiac” to the girl everyone wanted to know almost over night. He dumped me a year later for a girl considered even hotter – at just 14 she was already a model appearing in women’s magazines and parading in labels sold only to rich thirty-somethings. My dream run at the top of the charts was destroyed.

What makes this latest story of highly organized girl competitiveness newsworthy is the use of technology to spread the ranks.

In my early years as a teacher in High Schools, I found it relatively easy to intercept notes critiquing other girls. Technology means these same messages can now can reach thousands of recipients in moments. Harmful messages found on toilet walls could be scrubbed off – it is much more difficult to delete messages once they have gone global.

The potential for misuse of the cyber world is alarming. But we cannot blame the internet alone. It is after all merely a tool, it is all too easy to blame the evils of technology rather than examining why our society has become more and more toxic for our young people.

Just why has girl self hatred gone mainstream and global?

Years of watching reality TV and being invited to rank contestants and evict / put below the yellow line / vote off those not entertaining enough or thin enough or sexy enough to keep us interested have no doubt played a role. And if Paris can get famous for being rich, thin and for sleeping around why can’t they? Elements of the media have been most hypocritical in their reporting of this incident. They have judged these girls harshly when these young women have really only responded to the fodder they have been fed by these same image obsessed magazines; magazines that perpetuate the misconception that success is dependent largely on appearances and sexual desirability.

This incident is also a sad reflection of a society that makes our girls feel lonely. When they cannot find real connection at school, or at home, they look for it in cyber world and find all their deepest and darkest fears and fantasies fed on sites that promote eating disorders as a lifestyle choice, sites celebrating images of “girls gone wild” trashed and flashing their breasts at parties.

The reality is many women play this same compare and despair game too. Studies have shown that while up to 65per cent of teenage girls think they are less beautiful than the average girl, 84 per cent of women over 40 think they are less beautiful than the average woman. A survey released by the Australian Women’s Weekly just this week found that only one in six women were happy with their weight, one in five had such a poor body image they avoided mirrors and 45 per cent would have cosmetic surgery if they could afford it. Binge drinking appeared to be rife too, with a third of the women surveyed drinking too much and one in five women admitting she had been told she had a drinking problem.

As grown up women we no longer rank ourselves from 1-21 but many of us do get up in the morning and let the number that flashes up on our scales dictate our mood for the day.

Many of us tell our daughters they do not need to change in order to be beautiful while we rush for botox. We tell them inner beauty counts whilst we invest in plastic surgery and devour magazines that tell us that it is really only about air brushed perfection after all.

We may saddened by Club 21, but why are we shocked? Girls cannot be what they cannot see. If even the grown up girls are comparing and despairing, is it any wonder that our daughters do not know what “I am me, I am ok” looks like?

Let’s not blame the victims here. After all, these are young girls – pushing boundaries, exploring and making mistakes. We shouldn’t fall into the easy trap of simply making these girls out to be uber bitches. Rather, they are a sad reflection of the times. We need to dig a little deeper and address the toxic messages our girls are fed and ensure these are countered with positive body image programs and messages of strength and resilience.

—————————————-

Enlighten was founded in Sydney, Australia in 2003 and is now a national network of passionate, talented women who believe that by entering our young girls’ world and engaging them, they have the capacity to be a voice of difference and facilitate meaningful conversations around gender and identity. Enlighten works in schools on programs designed to develop positive self esteem and a healthy body image in young women. Dannielle delights in working with thousands of teenage girls across Australia, and with the media as a guest expert on teen issues. Her company was recently announced as the 2007 Australian Small Business Champion, Children’s Services.

Her blog on all things girl related can be found at Enlighten Education

Advertisements

This One’s For You– Gals! Branding Yogurt for Women

This Youtube, featured on colleague, Kate Harding’s blog, made me laugh so hard I just needed to share it with all of you.

As you know, branding and advertising is a huge part of our culture. We have been made painfully aware of the stereotyping, photo retouching, skinny model using world of press that often make girls and women feel that they must go out immediately and squeeze into a tiny pair of jeans of hack off a leg trying. But there are other types of marketing that can be a little sneakier– that make women feel like we just have to go out and buy diet food after watching daytime TV…

So grab your favorite flavor and get ready to laugh:

Food for Thought? How Schools are Filling Our Kids with Junk

Foe me, this is an issue of “worth” rather than “weight.”

As we’ve covered in the past, A 2001 Harvard School of Public Health study found that for each soda or juice drink a child drinks a day, the child’s odds of becoming overweight increase 1.6 times.

Two angry Moms, Amy Kalafa and Susan Rubin, would be horrified. With their documentary, they’ve been trying to make headway with the schools with regard to changing their food plans and vending machines over to providing healthier options that stimulate the mind and the body during school hours.

There are some success stories but as highlighted by the Washington Post this morning, there are also many schools that are failing or flailing as they try to balance what children want, what is feasible within their budgets, and what is actually good for the children and teens to consume.

Consequently, many teens are not making healthy choices.

Flores smooths her bills against the machine and tries once more. Out falls her meal — 530 calories and 25 grams of fat, or French Onion Sun Chips and Linden’s big fudge chip cookies. Ka-ching. Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

“I wouldn’t call it lunch,” she said as she gathered her change of 75 cents. “I know it’s not healthy, but it’s not like they’re selling fruits.”

So while the airwaves are flooded with people crying “obesity!” and “unhealthy children!” and many of our children are suffering from poor body image since we’re stressing dieting and appearance over eating healthy foods and exercising, here many of our school stand, providing sub par food choices to our children. So much for feeding the mind and bodies of our kids. Vending machines may be considered the enemy, but they are our children’s schoolmates for about 8 or more hours everyday.

To students, the machines are often an alternative to long lunch lines and sometimes unappetizing food.

We’ve done such a poor job for so long that schools feel that they must “phase in” good foods slowly so not to “shock” the children.

Bladensburg’s vending machines are more healthful than most, and fewer than half the school’s 2,100 students buy snacks and sodas from the machines on a typical day. Rice Krispies Treats (150 calories, 3.5 grams of fat) are an improvement from Snickers bars (280 calories, 14 grams of fat). Baked chips have replaced fried.

Yes. But can we call it lunch? And while Rice Krispy Treats are “better” where is the nutrition? I mean, it’s seems like where comparing unfiltered cigarettes to filtered ones—one might not be as bad but they’re still all bad for you.

Problems kids are citing that lead them to the vending machines:

(1) Long lunch lines

(2) Unappetizing lunch options

(3) Lunch is too close to breakfast (often just an hour and a half after the kids arrive)

What about “cheaper?”

Nope.

For a $1.85 school lunch, these students could gobble up pizza, collard greens, fresh fruit and calcium-fortified juice. Instead, many are spending $2 to $3 on vending goods.

Chef Anne Cooper, famous “lunch lady” revolutionizing school lunch in Berkley, California (and sister to Powerful Words Mom and friend, Ruth Cooper and Aunt to Powerful Words student Abby!), recommends:

  • Children ages 6-9 should aim for 4-7 servings daily
  • Children ages 10-14 should aim for 5-8 servings daily
  • Teens ages 14-18 should aim for 6-9 servings daily

And no, the Rice Krispy Treats DO NOT constitute a whole grain!

As well as:

  • 4-9 servings daily of veggies
  • 3-5 servings daily of fruits
  • 2-3 servings daily of calcium-rich foods/drinks
  • 2-3 servings daily of lean proteins
  • 3-4 servings daily of healthy fats
  • 2-3 servings per week of red meat at most due to it’s high saturated fat
  • Added sugars and fats should be eaten rarely
  • 8 glasses of water

So what are we fighting against?

Top Vending Machine Sales, according to Automatic Merchandiser

1. Snickers

2. Doritos Big Grab

3. Peanut M&Ms

4. Cheetos Crunchy

5. Cheez-It Original

Read the full list.

So what are we supposed to do?

We can’t get the manufacturers to stop making the junk food. And in our rush-around lifestyle, we still need convenience.

(1) We can educate our schools and form a committee to help choose good foods for your children’s schools

(2) We can screen the movie “Two Angry Moms” in your area to educate the community. Yes, you can too! Powerful Parent Media Expert and Correspondant, Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth, is doing just that in San Francisco!

(3) Get your children into after-school programs that provide exercise. Powerful Words schools have excellent physical programs. If you need a recommendation of a school near you, please contact us.

(4) Brainstorm new options that provide healthy options for the children in fun, creative, and modern ways.

According to an interview with Risa Lavisso- Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (an organization devoted to healthcare in America):

I’m not in favor of going back to the 50s or 60s. We’re not going to solve this problem by taking a “retro-view” We’ve got to find 21st century solutions to how you can re-engineer activity back into the very busy schedules we all have—re-engineer making healthy choices and eating healthy and being able to do it in a quick, accessible way that fits the environment and lifestyles that people have now. Risa Lavisso- Mourey

She would like to see a society in which:

(1) Restaurants allow you to see the nutritional information with regard to what you’re choosing to put into your body. Nutritional information should be available, accessible, and displayed readily.

(2) Schools guarantee healthy, nutritional guidelines are met for breakfast, lunch, and after-school.

(3) Exercise is encouraged and engaged in everyday. Providing creative ways for children to have 30-60 minutes of physical activity everyday is essential in schools and after school programs.

As adults, we are the ones who create the environment for our kids. We do have a moral and ethical responsibility to make sure it’s as good or an environment as we know how to create.

–Risa Lavisso- Mourey

Would you like to see Risa Lavisso- Mourey’s complete 5 minute interview? See it here.

Let’s hear it from the boy:

Noah Horn, age 12, didn’t care about eating healthy or exercising until his father dies of a massive heart attack when Noah was in kindergarten. Noah connects his father’s sudden death to his unhealthy lifestyle, weight, diet, and lack of exercise. Amazingly, Noah made a conscious decision not to follow in his father’s footsteps—a path he had been taking until his father’s unexpected passing.

He tells the Washington Post:

“If I’m not exercising or eating the right foods, then I might end of like him. I might get heart disease, have a heart attack and die. So after that I decided to eating healthy and exercising more.

He made small switches:

(1) Ritz crackers to… wheat crackers

(2) Ice-cream to… frozen yogurt or sherbert

(3) Deep fried chicken to…”regular” baked chicken

(4) Almost no exercise to…trying to exercise everyday (even if just walking)

While Noah still needs to work on his cholesterol and he understands why eating foods with a lot of cholesterol is unhealthy and can be life threatening, as with his father. But a very high price needed to be paid.

“I’m not glad that he died but I am glad in a way because if he didn’t die then I wouldn’t be healthy.”

And while you might be pondering if Noah feels like his choices have been taken from him or he is no longer in control, hear this:

What makes Noah feel powerful?

“It makes me feel powerful that I’m winning over the bad cholesterol. I’m the winner over not exercising and eating bad foods. I am the winner. It makes me feel very powerful.”

It’s time to make some switches. Children’s positive body image and health are in part dependent upon feeding the body with foods that nourish them, physical activity that excites them, and adults that show they care. Get your children on board and discuss some changes, even small ones that you can make today. What’s one thing that your children and your family can do today that could make a difference? Our children’s future is dependent upon it.

Beyonce’s Sesame Street Walkers: Sexualized Girls in Dereon Ads

Welcome to “Girls Gone Wild,” Little Tykes Addition. These ads featuring Dereon Girls clothes might provide a momentary laugh if they came out of an old “dress-up box” or if the girls were doing a mock “Pussy Cat Dolls presents Girlicious” audition. But the idea that they’re aimed for public view is alarming.

Still raw from the Miley Cyrus Mess, people are weighing in and they’re not happy with what they’re seeing.

According to New York Post’s Michelle Malkin,

If you thought the soft-porn image of Disney teen queen Miley Cyrus – wearing nothing but ruby-stained lips and a bedsheet – in Vanity Fair magazine was disturbing, you ain’t seen nothing yet. [The young models] are seductively posed and tarted up, JonBenet Ramsey-style, with lipstick, blush and face powder…The creepiness factor is heightened by the fact that women were responsible for marketing this child exploitation. So, what’s next? Nine-year-olds performing stripper routines?

So why are these sexualized images such a problem?

Media, such as magazine ads, TV, video games, and music videos can have a detrimental effect on children.

Not only has the sexualization of girls and women in the media lead to mounting public concern, researchers continue to find that the images can have a profound affect on the confidence, body image, dieting behaviors and sexual development of girls. Dr Eileen Zurbriggen, associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the chair of the APA task force on the sexualization of girls is scrutinizing these issues;

“The consequences of the sexualisation of girls in media today are very real,” said “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualisation has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”

What do they mean by sexualization?

When researchers speak of sexualization, they’re referring to when a person’s value come from their sexual appeal (looks) or their sexual behavior and when the person is looked upon as a sexual object, to the exclusion of other characteristics such as character, intelligence, and ability.

Examples:

  • Dolls with pouty lips, mini-skirts, and fish-net stockings aimed at the 4-8 year old market place
  • Thongs marked for young girls ages 7 to 10 years old (some printed with slogans like “eye candy” and “wink wink” on them).
  • Young pop-stars and celebrities dressed provocatively or inappropriately
  • Video games with sexualized images
  • Cartoon-clad thongs for teens

But are children and teens really that impressionable?

While there hasn’t been a body of work that directly links sexualized images in ads and electronic media to problems in girls, individual studies strongly suggest that a link may be evident when it comes to media and eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression in girls. For example;

  • Adolescent girls who frequently read magazine articles that featured articles about dieting were more likely five years later to engage in extreme weight-loss practices such as vomiting than girls who never read such articles.
  • Middle school girls who read articles about dieting (compared to those who did not read such articles) were twice as likely to try to lose weight 5 years later by fasting or smoking cigarettes. These girls were also three times more likely to use extreme weight loss practices such as taking laxatives or vomiting to lose weight.
  • The average person sees between 400-600 ads per day
  • About 7 of 10 girls say that they want to look like a character on TV
  • After just 10 minutes of exposure, the researchers found that the groups that had watched the music videos with the thin, attractive stars, exhibited the largest increase in body dissatisfaction in comparison to those who simply listed to the songs of completed the memory task with the neutral words. In addition, and perhaps the most troubling, it did not matter whether the girls had high or low self esteem to begin with—they were all equally affected.
  • About 41% of teen girls report that magazines are their most important source of information with regard to dieting and health and 61% of teen girls read at least one fashion magazine often.

But here’s the real deal:

Be vigilant about the media that’s delivered through your mail slot. Be conscious about the messages that are conveyed in your living room. If you don’t like what you see:

(1) Don’t buy it: Beyonce may make the clothes but you make the decisions. Only you can determine what comes through your doors from the mall and what goes out your door to school.

(2) Shut it off: No; you can’t be with your child at all times but it’s important to supervise the media flow into your household. There are plenty of parental locks and internet blocks that can put your in control.

(3) Talk about it: Let your child know your values and why you don’t think what the ads are portraying is a smart choice for her or your family.

(4) Ask questions: You may be surprised by your child’s view of the media. They may be more savvy than you think. Ask what she thinks about what she’s seeing—be present—and listen.

(5) Expose her to positive images: There are several positive role models in the media. However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket (we saw what happened with Miley and Jamie Lynn Spears). Open up your children’s world to actual living, breathing, 3-Dimentional role models in your community so that they can be inspired by something well beyond what they see on TV or in clothing ads.

Some decision-makers might be making fools of themselves by “pimping out” little girls in ads or draping a 15 year old tween queen in a sheet and sending it out to print, but you’re still the parent. Continue to instill values in your young children and they’ll be more likely to focus their attention away from these tween tarts and dolls gone wild and towards more appropriate activities; like playing dress up and watching Sesame Street.

Geri Halliwell and Moms as Body-Positive Role Models

Mothers can have it touch these days. Not only must they cope with their own body image insecurities, but they must be a positive role model to their daughters.

It’s not that they didn’t always need to think about being a positive role model—of course they did. However, Moms need to cope with the “you must be thin to win” messages from the media in a way that doesn’t cause spillover body image anxiety that can be absorbed by their daughters. In other words, they must be made of Teflon. They can hear it, but it can’t stick. They can experience it but they must be strong enough to endure.

From someone in the spotlight, this all might be nearly impossible. After all, the press loves to flaunt any bump, blemish, or bulge that a celebrity may have and make them (and us) think it’s just the worst thing in the world to every happen to someone.

While Glamour Magazine isn’t always the most body sensitive magazine, and the Spice Girls have been far from good examples of body loving popstars, every once in a while, you can find a diamond sliver in the rough. A new article shows that Geri Hallowell (Ginger Spice) wants to be a positive role model for her daughter, BlueBell. model for her daughter than with spending her life at the gym.

“I think it’s good to promote a healthy example, so whatever shape she is, she loves herself… I think the outside reflects the inside, and where I am now, I just feel content and accepting. I think that’s the key to having a good body.” (Glamour Magazine)

But what about for regular folks?

It’s great to get involved with programs that promote positive body image and help put the spotlight on healthy eating, getting in tune with your body, and spending time together in a positive environment.

In Atlanta Georgia, a bunch of Moms and 10-11 year old daughters, along with Dina Zeckhausen, a clinical psychologist from the Eating Disorders Information Network, got together for a day of cooking together. The goal? To help mothers become positive role models for their daughter—especially around food and eating.

“These are just ordinary moms…A lot of ordinary moms these days have struggled with their own body image. They want to raise healthy daughters. They don’t want to pass their own anxieties down to their girls.” –D. Zeckhausen

It’s vital that Moms zap the negative body talk in the bud. Studies show that Moms who speak negatively about themselves can have daughters that do the same.

“It’s important that you don’t put yourself down in front of your daughter,” explained Zeckhausen. “She has an adult woman’s body in her future and she’s looking to you in terms of how to feel about that body. She’s taking notes whether you know it or not.”

While one cooking class can’t make a big difference, the sentiment is quite correct. Moms and daughters can do things together that highlight healthy living—listening to your body when it’s hungry and being sure to exercise and enjoy life.

Eating Disorders Revealed: High Schoolers Talk About Their Secret to Educate their Small Town

All teens deal with struggles in their lives. It takes a powerful teen to admit she has a problem, work through her challenges, and use what she’s learned to help others. This article is the result of an interview with Alex Shabo, a teen who is recovering from an eating disorder and helping others in the process. (Photo credit: Carol Britton Meyer)

Alex Shabo and Jasmine Benger are battling their eating disorders in public. And they’re winning.

These 2 high school students from the idyllic New England town, Hingham, Massachusetts (a town nearby to where I live) hosted an open forum entitled “Our Body- Our Sacrificial Self.” The presentation was an effort to bring awareness to eating disorders and help give support to others who are facing similar challenges.

“Women’s bodies have become material objects, and both men and women have begun to treat them as such,” Shabo and Benger agree. “Self-awareness can be lost beneath overwhelming, restrictive societal values and attitudes – which can lead to a distorted image of body, loss of self, and eating disorders.” (Wicked Local)

Jasmine’s eating disorder began in freshman year:

“It started as innocent dieting, if there is such a thing. I was trying to be healthier, watching what I ate, and it slowly turned into an obsession,” she said. “Pretty soon I’d cut out so many essential nutrients that I didn’t have the wherewithal to be like: ‘This is so messed up.’ I was really sick.” (Patriot Ledger)

Alex was a sophomore when her eating disorder began:

“I started dieting, to be healthy,” she said. “That’s what’s being thrown at you, that dieting is a way of life, a way you should live your life.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing the Alex personally so that they can help us understand how best to help our daughters and help us to better understand the challenges they face:

How was the turn out at the eating disorders forum you hosted?

We were very amazed by the turn out at our forum and we are actually doing at least four more for elementary schools, the middle school and the high school in Hingham.

What specific signs would you advise other parents to look for in their girls to figure out whether their daughters might have an eating disorder?

There aren’t always the physical signs that come out first for an eating disorder patient. Although anorexia does have the physical component (rapid weight loss), bulimia and binge eating disorder do not. Some signs besides the drop in weight is skipping meals, restricting on certain foods (fats, carbs, etc.), counting calories, going to the bathroom for a while right after meals… I know there are many more but it really differs for all cases. I know something that my mom said at the forum that was very powerful was that parents don’t want to see this sort of behavior in their child and tend to ignore it. A lot of parents wait till they get comments from outside sources which can sometimes be too late. The best thing for parents to do is to talk to their kid when they see any change in behaviors socially or regarding food.

What are 3-5 pieces of advice that you would give to other parents of girls who are grappling with an image conscious society?

MODERATION: In a society where diets are telling you to not have this and avoid that, it is best to enjoy everything in moderate amounts. You can still be eating but not eat the right things and still really put your body in harms way. I see moderation as eating what you feel like eating and enjoying it rather than obsessing over the calories. If you give your body what it is craving, you are least likely to have any obsessive thoughts. Moderation is definitely one of the most difficult parts to achieve in our society.

Be aware of what you say; self awareness: A lot of people find commenting on how a person looks as a way to determine their emotions. It is a sad reality but it is what people feed off of to determine their own outlook on themselves. There is really no need to talk about calories, diets, or the bodies of others. I would just say it is important to be mindful of what you say because you never know how it will affect people around you.

Don’t encourage a dieting household: I am always shocked when I meet girls who are struggling with eating disorders who has a mom on a diet at their house. Not only is there diet food around but now they have a mom stressing out over her body as much as she is. Diets really are a short-term relief and are not always the most nutritious for our bodies.

Would you say that other girls in Hingham are having similar problems with eating disorders but have not come forward? What made you come forward and talk about this when other girls in your class and school have not?

This is one of the most frustrating parts about our forum. Our town is brought up on perfection and image. Everyone has a greener lawn than the one next to them and competition is definitely high. Eating disorders are very secretive because the reaction from people can be so diverse. Some people understand and really take pride in a person being honest but most kids at our school just don’t understand it and don’t wish to learn. Immediately, you are judged by what you are eating, what you aren’t eating, how you look this day or that day. I was definitely nervous about putting our names out there because now everyone wants to see ‘what does someone who is recovering do/eat/look’.

I honestly, find closure and help in talking about my eating disorder. It really motivates me to stay on track in my recovering. Keeping it a secret is a burden that really cripples recovery. Rather than concentrating on helping yourself, you are trying to hide this huge secret from the rest of the world. Also, if we don’t talk about, it won’t get better. If it keeps being swept under the rug more girls and boys will develop it because they are just so uninformed.

Alex and Jasmine plan to have more forums for parents and students in the area.

Congratulations on using your challenges to help others. You are truly Powerful Girls. It took great courage, tenacity, and confidence to come forward, take control of your problems, and motivate others to do the same. You’ve likely inspired many people!

The Power of the Scale Over Girls and Women

The story:

I’m sure you’ve all seen it. Today, I was at the gym and commenting in my head about the good mood everyone was in– good weather, happy faces, hump day.

Then I walked into the dressing room.

There were 2 women, one around 50 years old, the other around 25 or 30, standing around the scale, discussing their weight and showing great disdain for the number on the scale. “Why can’t it just say 140?” one woman said. “I know!” the other agreed. I’m such a whale. Yesterday the scale said 154 and today it says 156. I hate my life. Let’s go home.”

It was then that I realized that they were mother and daughter! What are we teaching our girls? Be careful!

A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that teenage girls’ desire to be thin or lose weight was based at least in part on their perception of what their mothers wanted for them. Girls in the study were more likely to diet if their moms had done so.

–Read more on that

Does the scale really have such power over girls and women?

It turns out, it does. Some might even say it even has a “magnetic pull.” Teen girls who weigh themselves often are more likely than other girls to engage in unhealthy dieting and go up and down in weight. The girls who are most scale-obsessed, according to a 2006 study out of the University of Minnesota, tend to skip meals, use diet pills, abuse laxatives, smoke, binge, and vomit to lose weight.

“The act of getting on the scale, weighing yourself every day, can lead to an unhealthy weight preoccupation,” according to lead researcher Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor at the university’s School of Public Health. “And teenage girls who are concerned about their weight are at great risk for unhealthy weight control behaviors.”

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, surveyed 2,516 Minnesota junior high and high school girls and boys in the 1998-99 school year and followed up in 2003-04.

Do you have such a reaction when you get on the scale? Does it have such power over you? It’s amazing how a hunk of mental and plastic can rule over the female mood…even on such a beautiful sunny day.

For mother’s day, is it possible to celebrate…without the scale? You’re worth so much more than that number staring you back in the face.

Cartoon found here. Thanks, Tiffabee!