The images are everywhere: perfect women with perfect hair and tight, toned bodies. Even Olympic athletes get judged in the "hot or not" arena. Have you ever wondered how all these images impact the way young girls perceive themselves and their confidence?
The only way to get the answer is to ask them. So, we gathered 15 girls from around Grand Rapids between the ages of 9 and 17 at Dog Story Theatre for a discussion on body image:
When you think about the way you view yourself is it always in a good way?
PILAR, 17: "Most of the time people seem to look at the negative things about themselves."
MOLLY, 14: "I used to think that everyone had to be perfect. They had to have a slim waist a nice perfect image of this perfect little plastic Barbie doll."
What are the pressures you feel?
PAYTON: "People used to always make fun of me because I had bucked teeth. And I always used to be down on myself because of it. I felt like I was worthless."
JAMIYA: "You can't wear certain things because you feel like someone's looking at you and sometimes I just want to be thinner."
MICHELLE: "A lot of ballerinas are like skinny. So, for me it's like I have to be the same way to be a ballerina."
LILLIE: "For me a really big insecurity for a long time was my hair because all my friends had the perfect straight hair and I would straighten it and it killed it and it was frayed and dry and I just couldn't accept it for the way that it was."
Do you feel pressure to be pretty? Have the perfect smile, personality and body?
AVRIELLE, 13: "You have to be skinny but not too skinny. You have to be athletic but not too athletic. And then friendly but not too friendly."
How do magazines affect your body image?
BRIANNA, 14: "You want to be that girl but you don't realize like in magazines that almost every picture is photo shopped and you are trying to be someone who is not real."
How does social media make you feel?
LILLIE: "I would get stuck on it for hours just looking through it and feeling terrible about myself. And even though it made me awful I couldn't stop. I just couldn't stop doing it."
EMILIA: "When you see like the perfect girl and she has like nice hair you're like wow I really wish I could look like that."
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Do you feel like you’re given the same chances as boys when it comes to being smart?
LEXI, 9: "Sometimes boys get asked how strong they are and sometimes girls don't. They get asked how their clothes look and how their hair looks and it makes me sad because the boys get asked all these cool questions."
What kinds of questions would you like them to ask you that they don't?
LEXI, 9: "How hard I work -- yeah that's it, how hard I work and what I do.”
How can you try and change societies views?
PENA, 17: "Focus on what makes you happy, what you want to do, your success."
JAMIYA: "If more girls would compliment each other more and make each other feel beautiful we could stick together and it could lift a lot of our insecurities out of us and stuff."
MOLLY, 14: "You should love the small things about yourself and not focus on such a big picture about yourself."
TOMIYA, 10: "At the end it only matters what I think about myself."
AVRIELLE, 13: "There won't be like any definite exact image of beauty because every body type, every skin type, everyone will be accepted as who they are rather than compared to what society thinks is perfect."
NOTE: Not all the girls ages are listed because they were not provided at the event. However, all girls fall between the age range 9 to 17.
WZZM has partnered with Grand Rapids Christian Radio station WCSG as part of the Seeing You project. There will be a body image panel discussion this Thursday at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville, featuring Women’s health writer and body image expert, Leslie Goldman.
Anyone in attendance is invited to ask questions of the panel.
Seeing You will help being a crucial conversation about the significant issues surrounding body image with our children, family and friends.