Gearing Up For Love Your Body Day with Chenese Lewis

chenese lewis, Love your body dayLove Your Body Day: Interview with Chenese Lewis, Hollywood NOW event organizer

By: Dr. Robyn Silverman

I had the pleasure of interviewing the very beautiful and the very busy Chenese Lewis, actress, radio host, motivational speaker, plus size model– and if that isn’t enough– the creator of the National Organization for Women’s Love Your Body Day event for her Hollywood Chapter! The confidence of the women around her increases manyfold whenever Chenese is around. She radiates body esteem and gives a boost to women’s body image.  Find out why she thinks everyone should love their body on October 24, 2009 and every other day of the year.

Maybe God put an extra dose of confidence in me so I have enough to share with others.   –Chenese Lewis

Dr. Robyn: What great things are you doing to honor Love Your Body Day and when and where is it all happening?

Chenese Lewis: Since 1998 the National Organization for Women (NOW) has celebrated Love Your Body Day. In honor of the day, I created an event for my local chapter, Hollywood NOW, and this marks my 4th year putting on the event. Hollywood NOW’s Love Your Body Day celebration consists of vendors, entertainment, and a “real women” fashion show. It’s a festive day with a positive message. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, October 24, 2009 from 12-4pm in the West Hollywood Park Auditorium and the admission is free.

Dr. Robyn: The concept of Love Your Body Day is straight forward– we should all love our bodies no matter what the shape or size! But what does LYBD mean to you and why celebrate it in such a big way?

Chenese Lewis: I think everyday should be Love Your Body Day for everyone, but unfortunately many women hate themselves instead and feel they don’t have anything to celebrate, which is exactly why I think this event is so important. I have had people come to me and tell me before attending Love Your Body Day and learning about the positive body image message I promote, they felt as if there was something wrong with them and they were “less than” the rest of society. I’ve had people who have confessed to me that they have had eating disorders they never told anyone about. I’ve had women who have told me that they gained weight after child birth and their self esteem was so low they though about ending their life.

Through this event I have had the opportunity to change lives. I had no idea it would affect people to this magnitude because the way the event is set up its just a fun and entertaining day. But just being in a uplifting and accepting atmosphere, with positive influences and seeing other women who look like you that are confident and happy, is so empowering, even to me!

The event has grown each year. It’s real grassroots and we don’t have a big budget. It’s fueled by my passion and is a labor of love. Why not celebrate in a big way, we’re worth it!

Dr. Robyn: Given that we live in a world that seems to celebrate thinness and denigrate women for deviating from that ‘thin ideal,” how have YOU come to love your body?

This is a question I get often, and I wish I had I great story to tell but I don’t. I never had a problem with confidence or self esteem in my life. I contribute it to the cultural and regional environment I grew up in (African American in the South) as well as unconditional love and support form my parents. Being plus size just wasn’t that big of a deal, I had a happy childhood, did great in school, very social, so I didn’t have to learn to love my body, it was just second nature. I feel that everything happens for a reason, and my life experiences have lead me to what I am today, maybe God put an extra dose of confidence in me so I have enough to share with others.

Dr. Robyn: For those girls and women out there who are yo yo dieting, starving themselves, or constantly criticize their own bodies (or someone else’s) for not fitting in with society’s thin ideal, what advice do you have for them in honor of this special day?

My advice would be to stop trying to achieve this “perfect ideal” that doesn’t exist. No one is perfect, everyone has flaws, and those flaws make us unique and beautiful. If you are constantly unsatisfied with yourself and always trying to look a certain way you’re not meant to be, you will go crazy. Its such a freeing and peaceful feeling when you accept yourself as you are and start living your life instead of bashing yourself. Your weight is just a number not your worth.

Your weight is just a number not your worth. –Chenese Lewis

Dr. Robyn: For those people who won’t be able to make it to the celebration, how do you suggest that they get in on the festivities and the spirit of the day?

Chenese Lewis: I would suggest that you do something that boosts your confidence to celebrate you. For me it would be pampering myself by getting a manicure and pedicure,and a new outfit! Plan a fun day with the girls where no one is allowed to say anything negative about themselves and everyone showers each other with compliments! Do something fun that celebrates you as you are right this moment!

For more information about Hollywood NOW’s Love Your Body Day visit www.loveyourbodyday.com and for more about Chenese visit www.cheneselewis.com

Hollywood NOW “Love Your Body Day,” is a community celebration to promote healthy body image for women of all ages and to combat the negative portrayals of women and girls in mainstream entertainment, fashion, cosmetics, media and advertising.
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Body Image Tips to Raise Healthy, Confident Daughters

Dr. Robyn Silverman

September is an amazing month for action. You can smell it in the air. Back to work.  Back to school.  Back to…snarky body-bashing comments from “friends,” coworkers, and the girl next door who, as it turns out, isn’t that nice after all.

What are we doing? It’s time to get it together.  If women can’t be nice to each other, who the heck are we all supposed to lean on?  Come on.  Men are…men.  We love them but they don’t understand the plight of women and girls like…well, other women and girls!

I know next month is national Love Your Body Day– in fact, I will be posting an amazing interview with Love Your Body Day event planner, Chenese Lewis this week. But do we really need to wait to love our bodies?  Do we really need to wait to give our friends, colleagues, and family members a compliment, a smile, and a quick “you go girl” to help them feel like they are valuable, worthwhile, and an asset to themselves and society? Yes, I mean despite their weight.  Who cares?  No woman or girl is worth more when they weigh less.  We need to fight back.

Here are some quick tips for parents and yes, other women, to help inspire our girls to hone those assets and reach their potential.  Don’t wait for Love Your Body Day.  Do it now. How about teaching that to your daughter or some other girl today?

Yours,

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Boys and Body Image: The Adonis Complex and Steroid Use in Teens

Steroid Use in Teen Boys: Continuing the discussion…

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Powerful Parents are certainly a passionate bunch. I guess my article on steroid abuse among teens stirred up some good discussion yesterday in light of the cultural response to body image problems among our youth. Perhaps you were surprised that boys were affected just as girls have been affected. What else can we expect?

With so much concentrated focus on the war against obesity, it shapes up the insecurities in children who say to themselves, “I don’t want to be fat, I don’t want to be cast aside, put down, or put out, so I will do whatever it takes, even if it means putting my health as risk, to be thin, muscular, and admired. Is this the message we want to send to our youth—spooned to mouth by Hollywood starlets, He-man Gladiators, and appearance-driven magazines? To be thin, muscular and unhealthy rather than risk being called “overweight” or worse yet…“average?”

Research has shown that dieting and attending to one’s physique in negative ways has become so prevalent that the behavior of in a way, has become normalized. That means that those people who are NOT dieting, participating in some abnormal or disordered eating patterns, or trying to alter their body through surgery, drugs, or laxative abuse, are in affect, abnormal. One preteen in one of my Sassy Sisterhood Girls Groups said it clearly a few summers ago, “if you’re not dieting or something like it, you’re considered weird, snobby, kind of stuck on yourself, or like, NOT normal.” Great. What youth, whether we’re talking about a boy or a girl, wants to be abnormal?

So they reach out for assistance. They restrict food, they purge, they take laxatives, or they dope up with steroids. Well, what did we expect? Do you ever hear societal reverb recalibrated to say, “lose weight but don’t go too far?” Of “eat healthily, exercise wisely, and then accept yourself at the size your at? No. We hear…be better, faster, bigger! Be More! More! More!

I did an interview a few month’s back for a teen website in which I was asked about boys and body image. Here is a part of my answer:

Boys are dealing with something that is now informally being called “The Adonis Complex”—named after the Greek mythology figure Adonis who was half man and half god—he was considered the ultimate in masculine good looks and ideal physique for men. And, if you are familiar with Greek mythology, Adonis had a body that was so perfectly beautiful that Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, fell in love with the site of him.

So what parents need to know is that while it’s not as common as it is for girls, (in fact, girls are 3 times as likely to feel bad about their bodies than boys) boys are also at risk of developing unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders. In fact, according to a study done in Australia, about 45 per cent of men were unhappy with their bodies to some degree, compared with only 15 per cent of men only 25 years ago. Remember, Boys are changing too—they also want to look good and desirable to others—they value the opinions of others, and they recognize that there is a connection between positive attention and how they look.

Research into boy’s body image has shown males are concerned with having that lean muscular look and of course, this makes them want to lose weight and increase their muscle mass- often in unhealthy ways. And the bottom line here is that again, messages that come from parents and the media have a strong influence on body image for teen boys as well as teen girls—but while it may be a large concern—and it deserves a lot of attention, we can do something about it—we can help our kids feel confident, healthy, happy and worthwhile-and that is what I am trying to do with my work with children, teens, parents, and educators.

So we must expect teens to come up with ways that make them “the best.” Because we tend to pay attention to the best. Who pays attention to mediocre? In our society we want it all—even if it means that we chisel away at ourselves, our health, and our self worth to get there. Yes, I’m talking abut the teens…but you know as well as I do, we’re also talking about adults. And somehow, we’re supposed to serve as examples.

In a world in need of role models that don’t come in retouched slinky dresses or couched in pumped up doped-filled muscles, we ask those who are truly trying to make a difference to scream the loudest. So go ahead…scream!

One of our resident role models, Amy Jussel, Executive Director of Shaping Youth (an Organization for which I am an Advisory Board member and Body Image expert, piggybacked my article on Steroid use in boys, which I wanted to share, at least in part, with all of you:

Take it away…Amy!

Awhile back I wrote about body image issues offering “equal opportunity toxicity” as young boys have increased body dysmorphia, emulating buffed boy, ripped six-pack icons of video games and ‘hunks’ modeled and merchandised ad nauseum.

Not getting alarmist, as we’re still in single digit growth percentages, but it’s worth the focus on BOYS who have been gaining on girls in eating disorders and tanked self-esteem as media and marketing serve up a quest for the almighty ‘hotness’ and adolescents end up with The Adonis Complex reverb.

This Sunday on our own Shaping Youth Advisory Board member Rona Renner’s radio show, you can hear the doctors tackle “adolescent body image” (podcasts archived too) as Rona and her guests help teens develop a healthier image of themselves beyond the media machine.

Gee, let’s start with Lightyear XSTREAM Energy. (and no, not the Buzz Lightyear kind) This energy drink contains Yohimbe, claiming to be an aphrodisiac and “natural sexual enhancer used for impotent males.” Or perhaps this new summer ’08 flavor of citrus “Crunk” which you may recall originated in ’04 with rapper/producer Lil John and the late Sidney Frank, of Jagermeister and Grey Goose libation fame.

Now, um, tell me, doctors…”Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?”

The media/marketing blitz selling kids ways to last longer, get stronger, “be hot with a shot” is complicit in the escalation of body image problems wreaking havoc on this appearance-obsessed generation of kids.

Girls may receive more press about disordered eating and such, but ‘Bigorexia’ (photo credit at left from Ditch Diets Live Light by blogger Cari Corbet-Owen) is on the rise. (See Cari’s primer called ‘Who Gets the Adonis Complex?” for a helpful snapshot of milestones in media moments for male context)

These media corollaries are backed up by researchers like Alison Field, Harvard Medical School professor of pediatrics and lead researcher on the GUTS study [Growing Up Today]…

A synopsis of her outcomes with males?

“Although fewer males than females are preoccupied with a desire to be thinner, a non-trivial number of males are preoccupied with a desire to have more or better defined muscles. The latter concern is rarely assessed in studies that include males.”

And it’s more common than once thought, with a direct correlation of risk factors between boys unhealthy means used to gain weight, (e.g. steroids) and girls unhealthy means lose weight, (e.g. bulimia, diet pills, etc.) tied to “wanting to look like same-sex figures in the media.”

Ahem. Causal link, anyone? When I have 5th graders in our counter-marketing sessions worried about dieting and muscle mass, (boys AND girls) I’d say Houston, we have a problem.

How would Shaping Youth “counter-market” the buffed boy/steroid bit? (and intake of supplements of all kinds promising the lean, mean teen machine?)

Point to articles like this from Parenting Teens.com for starters:

“Teens abusing steroids may suffer reduced sperm count, shrinking testicles, impotence and difficulty urinating. All of this intimately associated with the equipment most men value very highly.

Teens on steroids also risk losing their hair and inappropriate breast development. One has to wonder how many takers there would be for steroids if these side effects were listed alongside the much-vaunted ‘desirable’ effects. This is why education on the (in excess of 70) side effects of steroids is almost a sure way to deal with steroid abuse among teens. The fact is these young people are simply unaware of this.

Imagine a pack of steroids bearing this equation: “Enormous increases in brute strength” soon followed by the shrinking of testicles, impotence, lowered sperm count and hair loss. With the writing on the wall few teens can dispute the ill effects of steroid abuse. It is still true that the underlying problem of low self esteem and poor body image must be addressed. Rest assured that if it is allowed to lie there unattended it will not go away. Instead it will find another destructive outlet.”

Info on Rona Renner’s Radio Show for this Sunday: (1-877-372-KIDS) or listen when posted on the website Details: The doctors will be talking about media and peer pressure to be thin or look sexy, as well as some of the ‘acting out’ that transpires with body insecurities in the form of cutting, eating disorders, depression or anxiety. Hey, maybe Dr. Robyn would call-in to Rona’s radio show and write us a guest editorial recap? Hmn…

Related Resources/Body Image/Boys

NIDA for Teens (Fact Sheets)

Adolescents Bulk Up Their Bodies, USA Today

The X/Y Factor by Rachel Abramowitz, L.A.Times

Tween Boys/Putting on the Spritz by Lori Aratani, L.A. Times

Shaping Youth Packaging Boyhood: Corporate Pirates Raid Boys’ Souls

Bigorexia & Muscle Building: Ditch Diets & Live Light.com

The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat, & Prevent Body Obession in Men & Boys (book)

I’m, Like, SO Fat!: Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices About Eating & Exercise (book)

Looking Good: Male Body Image in North America (book)

About-Face: Body Image Books/Tips on Body Acceptance

NIDA: Anabolic Steroid Use in Teens, 2005

Kids Health: Steroids/Human Growth Hormone

Steroid Use by Teens Soaring (CBS News, 2003)

Packaging Boyhood.com (upcoming book/survey here!)

Amy Jussel is the Founder & Executive Director of Shaping Youth, a nonprofit, nonpartisan consortium concerned with harmful media and marketing messages to children.Prior to founding Shaping Youth, Amy spent over 20 years as a writer/producer in print, broadcast and film in commercial advertising as well as journalism. Her media background makes her uniquely qualified to assess the impact of multi-channel marketing in children’s lives.

Thanks, Amy! Let’s hear what all of you have to say…comment below!

Copyright: Dr. Robyn J.A.Silverman; http://wwwDrRobynsBlog.com and http://wwwBodyImageBlog.com

Banned: Illegal to promote ultra thinness in France

Places around the world (not the U.S.) are finding ways to discourage ultra-thinness and eating disorders in a powerful way.

France:

The Christian Science Monitor reported the other day that you will now we fined (or jailed) if your website or blog promotes ultra thinness or excessive dieting. The promotion of excessive thinness or eating disorders is now a punishable crime with fines up to $78,000.

France is fed up with the growing numbers of sites that glorify destructive eating behaviors; particularly those sites that offer contests, support, and tricks that lead to the success of starving oneself.

Coming on the heels of related initiatives in Spain and Italy, the ban is the latest and most far-reaching attempt to stem a disorder – and an image of womanhood – with which hundreds of thousands of Europeans wrestle. But how effective will the measures – and some are quite creative – be?

France’s bill, which must now be approved by the Senate, won unanimous support from Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party, empowers judges to punish with prison terms and fines of up to €45,000 ($72,000) any publication, modeling agency, or fashion designer who “incites” anorexia. It also allows for the prosecution of websites whose pages and blogs promote eating disorders.

Spain

France’s fines follow the ban that Spain put in place in 2006 that banished ultra-thin models from walking down the catwalk.

In Spain, where some experts say that eating disorders affect 1 in 200 young women, the country’s major fashion show provoked controversy two years ago when it tried to address the issue. Banning from the catwalk models with an unhealthily low body mass index (or BMI – a weight to height ratio) of below 18, the vice-councilwoman for the Economy in Madrid’s regional government, Concha Guerra, said, “Our intention is to promote good body image by using models whose bodies match reality and reflect healthy eating habits.”

In addition, the Spanish government has successfully persuaded 90% of Spain’s clothing manufacturers to standardize female clothing sizes. This action was based on a study of the size and shape of 8,000 Spanish females between the ages of 10 and 70. Spain also wants to discourage the use of display mannequins that are smaller than a Size 38 (U.S. Size 6).

Note: According to The World Health Organization, anyone with a BMI below 18.5 is underweight. In addition, a BMI below 17.5 is one of the criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. A BMI nearing 15 is usually used as an indicator for starvation. (Here’s more information from the National Institutes of Health along with a BMI calculator for your reference)

Netherlands

Unilever, parent company to Dove and Axe, agreed to ensure that their models adhered to a BMI of between 18-25, which is, medically speaking, in the “normal” range.

“Unilever has adopted a new global guideline that will require that all its future marketing communications should not use models or actors that are either excessively slim or promote ‘unhealthy’ slimness,” –Ralph Kugler, president of Unilever’s home and personal care division

Italy

The Health and Sports Ministries in Italy launched a campaign last month that provides media guidelines that are meant to discourage ultra-thin body ideals. Milan, following the path of Spain, is requiring it’s fashion runway models to have a BMI of at least 18.5 They are also providing eating disorder education in schools.

That campaign came just months after one of the country’s clothing labels began its own anti-anorexia campaign with billboards depicting the nude, emaciated body of anorexic French model Isabelle Caro. –CSM

The UK

While the organizers of London’s Fashion Week did not follow Spain and enact a ban of any models who had a freakishly low BMI, they did require all fashion models to demonstrate that they were in good health by bringing in a signed certificate from an eating disorders specialist that stated it was so.

Austrailia

The government recently launched a media code of conduct on body image. Minister of Youth Affairs, James Merlino, explains that the code of conduct contains 4 clauses that he encouraged the media, fashion world, and advertisers, to adopts.

The Code contains four clauses regarding:
· The use and disclosure of altered and enhanced images;
· Representation of a diversity of body shapes;
· Fair placement of diet, exercise and cosmetic surgery advertising; and
· Avoiding the glamorization of severely underweight models or celebrities.

As Leslie Goldsmith mentioned over on The Huffington Post, it’s been quite a “tumultuous week for body image” in Australia. In addition, it’s been proposed that as of mid-2008, plastic surgery (and tanning beds) are off-limits to teens under 18 years of age. Unfortunately, at the same time, the news highlighted “Club 21,” a clique that ranks girls based on weight. Nope, not kidding.

Members of the elite club, dubbed “Club 21” or “Big 21”, parade their ranking from one to 21 on their wrists. The skinnier and prettier the girl, the higher her rank. One respondent to an internet forum on the issue said: “Ugly girls need not apply.”

I guess we need to take the good with the bad in Australia. At least the government is taking some action.

America

Still waiting…

Currently, our defense against ultra-thin models has to do with plumping out disturbing waifiness with photo-shop instead of hiring more “real-size” models, as well described on feministing and shapely prose.

Due to first amendment rights, people are skeptical that such a ban issued in France could be successfully issued in the U.S. According to Sudan Scafidi, an expert in fashion law at New York’s Fordham University Law School;

We do ban advertising of smoking in the U.S. and we take smoking into consideration for movie ratings. But we know there is a clear link between smoking and lung cancer. No one has yet established a connection between images in magazines and skinny girls.”

I guess that means it’s back to work for all of us…

photo from http://thisislavie.wordpress.com

Danica Patrick: Too Sexy to Be a Role Model?

Danica Patrick- Sports Illustrated, photographer; Ben Watts

Blog pal, Amy Jussel, of Shaping Youth is calling for my response on the tough topic of Danica Patrick, race car champion.

And a personal invitation for our own Dr. Robyn Silverman at Kiss My Assets, (our newest body image expert) to share her input too (see her new body image data from this week’s stat round-up linked above and always in our sidebar)

Don’t be shy…or concerned you’ll offend me, even you board advisors, ok? As Sharon and I have already proved, we can ‘agree to disagree’ now and then and still raise vital awareness and uncork some doozies of a conversation…

So what d’ya say?

Here’s part of the scoop from the Shaping Youth Blog:

Danica Patrick has sparked a mini-debate among my own advisory board (particularly this exchange between Dr. Sharon Lamb and Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown of Packaging Girlhood and yours truly)…not for her hard-fought win of course, but for her mixed messages as a role model for girls which will no doubt accelerate even faster than a final flag lap in an Indy race.

So here’s the deal…

indycarseriescolorjf7.gifNo question Danica Patrick’s racecar driving smacks of bold, gutsy, ‘believe in yourself’ confidence with style and substance of a ‘one girl revolution’ (that’s one of the more poignantly ironic music tracks on her website that caught my ear as a deeper subtext of her public persona) but overall, I personally feel the mixed messages of self-objectification and body hawking are enough to give many girls whiplash.

My own daughter’s comment on her photos (which pop up first in her Google name search) and her Go Daddy “beaver” ad called Exposure nixed from the Superbowl line-up as inappropriate was this retort, (unprompted, honest!)

danika-patrick2.jpgDanica’s ad choices are her own, most certainly, but her ‘role model’ caché will no doubt go ‘ka-ching’ and be even more visible to girls with this victory, and this concerns me.

If she keeps up the objectification cues in her new endorsement deals, I’m going to go really, really basic here…and ask at the very core:

Here’s our play by play commentary…with one more added query:

dann4.jpgSince media’s tendency is to either herald or marginalize public figures without looking at the surround sound snapshot of the overall media and cultural landscape (not to mention how it’s all landing on kids) shouldn’t role models themselves be held accountable for their own actions too, rather than masked under the guise of media and marketing as the big bad wolf?

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So here’s my (Dr. Robyn’s) response:

You might think I would have an immediate and solid answer for this problem since I’m a body image expert. However, I’m also all about girls challenging stereotypes and ripping the doors and glass ceiling off of male-dominated activities.

So, I don’t have only one feeling about this situation. I am torn like any woman would be who works for the protection and advancement of positive youth development. On the one hand, you have the sexualization of women so that the celebrity has more market appeal. Yes, yuck. As a body image specialist, I really hate to see it. It turns my stomach and gets me angry that this is the natural progression of things when it comes to great sports women in the media. On the other hand, you have the strength and power of an amazing triumphant woman highlighted and getting some great attention. As an advocate for girls, I love that part.

In the martial arts world, Gina Carano is being treated in much the same way. On the one hand, her body has been “pinned up” and featured to bring market appeal to Mixed Martial Arts. She’s pictured like a ring girl instead of a fighter. On the other hand, her star power makes people take notice of her strength and power in a typically male-oriented world. It says to girls, “You can do anything—just as good, if not better, than the boys.” I pray that this is the overarching message that is sent out loud and clear. Yes, that part, I have to say, I like a whole lot.

So what’s the deal? Do these women really need to get “sexed up” to draw appeal and attention? Oh boy. In today’s world, right now, we know the score. Advertisers don’t cover women in sports much as it is—and when they do, well, you can see how they slant things. It’s too bad, since study after study shows that girls in sports glean great benefits.

I hate to say it, but sometimes we need to bring people through “their” door (i.e. “look at me, I’m hot”) to get them to go through “ours” (“look at me, I’m a strong, successful woman, and you can be too”).

The message that says “girls can survive and thrive in a male-dominated field” is so important and our girls may not hear it as loudly if the star doesn’t get the “media makeover” that seems a requirement these days. I know—this is the problem at hand. Girls want so badly to associate with these beautiful stars and my hope is that while they may first be stunned by the beauty and star appeal, they may second, fall in love with the strength, courage, and power that it took to get to the top. In this case, when they think of these women, they exchange this sexualized look for this message of triumph, and this sexualized look for this message of perseverance.

Given that the “hubba hubba” messages are not going to stop anytime soon—I’ll take the good stuff when I can get it…even if I wince a little (or maybe a lot) when greatness is served with a pink teddy bear wearing red lipstick, patent leather, and a way-too sassy attitude. My hope is that the girls peel away the fluff and get to the guts.

And that’s my take on it.

Feminists Forgiving of Fat, Research Says

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Yesterday’s New York Times highlighted some new research on fat and feminism. Researchers (Viren Swami and team) out of the University of Westminster in London showed that those women who describe themselves as feminists were more likely to positively perceive a wider range of body sizes than non-feminists. The research was published in The Journal of Body Image.

How the study worked: Researchers compared 129 women who identified themselves as feminists to 132 women who identified themselves as not-feminists. The participants were asked to rate a series of 10 photographs of women (faces concealed) that varied in BMI (Body Mass Index) “from emaciated to obese.” All of the photographed women were wearing plain, tight, gray clothing. Participants were asked to identify (1) the thinnest woman they considered “physically attractive” (2) the heaviest women they considered “physically attractive” and (3) the women they considered most “physically attractive.”
The Results: Results showed no significant differences between feminist and non-feminists in the figure they considered to be maximally attractive. However, feminists were more likely to positively perceive a wider range of body sizes than non-feminists.
The Hypothesis: Researchers speculate that these results could be attributed to possible protective factors that feminists may possess due to ideology. According to the researchers; “Feminism, does appear to afford women a more inclusive perception of who is physically attractive.” Feminists may be less likely to internalize the hype about the thin ideal and body objectification. In other words, feminists aren’t taken by the notion that it’s very important for a woman to adhere to society’s thin ideal.
Interesting Finding: Researchers reported that feminists and nonfeminists tended to agree on which woman was the most “physically attractive.” The chosen woman was typically somewhat underweight, according to Swami and team, which may suggest that even feminists may still be affected by societal opinions that thin=attractive.
Note: BMI is a standard measurement that researchers use to assess Body Mass Index, a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. While it it can be a reliable indicator when doing research and for medical doctors who are trying to assess whether a person may be at risk for medical problems, it isn’t perfect.Are we making progress of do we still have a long way to go?

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Raising Strong, Confident Daughters: The Next Five Ways

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How can we build up our daughters’ self confidence?

Parents can do so much to help our daughters’ thrive. You’ve read volume 1. Here’s volume 2 of raising strong, confident daughters:

(6) Catch your child “being good:” We often are quick to jump when our child is exhibiting poor behavior, however, when our child is making good choices, we “let sleeping dogs lie” and refrain from making a comment. When you praise your child when she doesn’t even know you were looking, two things happen. She becomes more apt to repeat the positive behavior and she feels good about the choices she is making independently of you.

(7) Be a positive role model: How is your self esteem? If you look in the mirror and say negative things about yourself or your body, your child will absorb those actions. Your children are like little sponges! Even your subtle, unspoken negative reactions to how you have performed or how you look (as you believe it reflects on you as a person) can be read by your children. This negativity can filter down to your children and lead them to question if they are good enough.

(8) Love is unwavering: My friend used to tell her young children, “nothing you can do or say will make me take my love away.” When your children know that even when they make mistakes you will still love them, they will become more self assured and more understanding of how many childhood mistakes can be fixed with some purposeful effort and perhaps a few heartfelt apologies.

(9) Enroll your child is an activity that fosters confidence: There are many activities that can make your child feel successful. What are her talents? What are her interests? Some programs provide a character development component into their lesson plans which help children put a positive name to their positive behavior. For example, many martial arts academies are using a systemized character education program that is formulated to build children’s sense of values and self worth. Choose an activity with positive role models and a positive curriculum.

(10) Talk with your child: When you talk with your child, ask powerful questions, and really listen. Let her know that she is valued and that her opinions matter. Many parents find themselves “talking at” their child which, as we know, isn’t always well received. Spend time talking with your child about things that matter to the whole family and the things that matter to her.

Until next time (and the next ways to help your daughters!),

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