Body Image Disorders and What Sketchers is Doing to Help!

16 Aug

I hope you noted the sarcasm there!

Have we no shame?

Last week I read an article about the new ad campaign for Sketchers Shape ups
and how they are targeting young girls in an effort to promote the First Lady’s
“Get Active” campaign.  I am all for encouraging children to get out from behind
the tv screen playing video games and get outside and run and be children and
while I applaud anyone who takes the active steps to encourage healthier
behavior I honestly think that Sketchers have gone a little too far on this
one.

The target age group of these ads are girls ages 9-12 which must be why the
only time I have actually seen one of the ads was while waiting on my oil change
at the dealership one Saturday morning while watching what I assume was the
Disney Channel.  That day I saw the ad run twice, once with just the svelte
little cartoon character girls dancing and singing like they were performing on
stage and the next with the “junk food boys” chasing after them.  I was not so
concerned with the first ad as much as I was the second, why are we encouraging
young girls to think that only boys will chase after them if they are
skinny?

The age at which body image distortion begins is increasingly getting younger
and younger each year, often now occurring as young as 10 years old.
Adolescences is a time of discovery and growth and a crucial time in which self
esteem is established and crushed at the same time.  Rather than raise another
generation of self conscious girls and young women we should be encouraging them
to love themselves just as they are.

According to womenshealth.gov, over exercising is just as detrimental to your
health as not exercising, a fact that many overlook on a regular basis.  And its
true that over exercising and eating disorders go hand in hand, its just a
matter of time before someone who has convenced themselves that they need to
work out more and harder will convince themselves that they need to stop eating
so much in order to help them lose the weight.

But while searching the womenshealth.gov site I found a like for
girlshealth.gov that shed a ray of light, there at the top of the page the
headline, “Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be You, Beautiful”  This is the message that we
should be sending to our children, that no matter what they look like, no matter
what size or gender or race or anything else, they are who they are and they are
beautiful just as they are.  Young girls already get enough media images fed to
them every day outside of the Disney Channel to have to deal with it there as
well.  “Buy this lipstick and guys will like you.  Wear this brand and you will
be popular.  Eat at this place and everyone will think you are cool.”  Shouldn’t
they have a place where they can go to just be kids, without all the subliminal
and downright upfront messages, a place that encourages them to accept
themselves and each other and to look beyond what is outside and listen to what
is inside.

I know that is just a pipe dream but its one that I wish for every day.
Maybe one day, if enough of us wish for it, it might just come true.

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