Average is Beautiful!

I’ve done a few posts on body image over the past few months, as this is a subject close to my heart with a “tween” daughter. The stats on how young girls feel about their bodies is really quite alarming . A staggering number of children (girls as young as 6) are already comparing themselves to others and making comments about their perceived imperfections. My friend Kelly just shared this link on Facebook and I just had to pass it on.

Meet Lammily:

Lammily is a beautiful doll that has been designed with the body proportions of a typical 19-year-old female.  Her body reflects the beauty an average woman,  unlike Barbie, whose body proportions are so distorted she couldn’t even support her own weight. Lammily portrays an active, healthy life style and is a much better example for our young girls.  If you are interested in learning more about Lammily or her designer Nickolay Lamm, follow this link.

Check-out my previous posts on body image and/or raising a tween girl:

Barbie Blunders – get the real scoop on Barbie

The Tween Challenge – How to support your daughter as she enter puberty.

It’s Girl Talk – This is one of my favourite posts. There is a hilarious video embedded, so check it out if you have a chance.

I am really hoping that Nickolay Lamm can develop a really successful business based on Lammily. I think it’s time Barbie had some serious competition. Of course, there is a bit of a down-side. I think it is pretty safe to say that Lammily will need to be suited up with her own clothing line and won’t be the recipient of Barbie’s “hand-me downs”.

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Barbie Blunders

I have really been enjoying the Mothers and Daughters in Touch course that Eden and I have been taking on Wednesday evenings.  I saw a video today and it reminded me of our class last week on body image.  This video is not unlike the message in the Dove Videos on body image.  It does a speed enhanced video of a model preparing for a photo shoot.  It is so sad to think that they take a beautiful young lady, like the model in the video, and distort everything thing to create a photo that it completely unrealistic. Check out Body Evolution below to see how dramatically photo shop can alter an image.  What message does it give our daughters?

What You Didn’t Know About Barbie?

BarbieThis video also reminded me of some of the facts that our facilitator shared about Barbie. I was able to find an article on dailymail.co.uk which highlighted many disturbing facts about Barbie’s body and how impossible it would be for a woman to ever have her proportions.  (I believe that the original source may have been rehabs.com and I have referenced it below.) Here are some highlights from the Daily Mail article:

  • Did you know that in real life Barbie would have a 16″ waist and that only 1 in 2.4 billion would have the same waist size and likely be suffering from a severe eating disorder?
  • Did you know that her 16″ waist would be 6″ thinner than her head?
  • Did you know that Barbie would be forced to walk on all fours because her 3.5″  wrists and her 6″ ankles couldn’t support her own body weight?
  • Did you know that only 1 woman in a crowd of 638,531 people would have hips equal in size to that of Barbie’s 29″ hips?
  • Did you know that you would have to search through a crowd of well over 3 million to find a human being with the same waist to hip ratio as Barbie?

This quote was taken from an incredible article written on rehabs.com:

The Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders has calculated how much an average healthy woman’s body would have to change in order for her to have the proportions of a Barbie doll.

They found that women would have to grow two feet taller, extend their neck length by 3.2 inches, gain 5 inches in chest size, and lose 6 inches in waist circumference. No woman could ever hope to achieve such impossible dimensions, and yet young girls are shown that this is a body to emulate.

The rehabs.com article also states that 42% of girls between the ages of 6 and 10 wish they were thinner and many are beginning to diet before they can even spell the word. Check-out their Barbie Infographic below and click on the image to visit the site to read the article and check-out the other charts and tables.

Barbie Infographic

If you visit the site, click on the View Barbie Infographic button.

I know many of us grew-up playing with Barbies and I am in no way saying “ban the Barbies”. Eden was never really into Barbies, but definitely received a few new ones as gifts, as well as a whole set that was passed on to her from her older cousins. We ended up garage selling them as she was never really into dolls of any sort. Having said that, I did not discourage Barbies or her playing with them at the time. I knew that Barbie portrayed the image of what many esteem to be “perfection”, but had no idea what a “fraud” that image was until recently. I believe that knowledge is power and perhaps this knowledge will enable you to make informed choices for the little girls in your life.  At the very least, it is interesting information to share with young girls, so that they know the truth behind the doll.  Who knew??

Three cheers to all of the women and young girls who love themselves for who they are and are completely comfortable in their own skin!

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“The Tween Challenge” ~ How to Keep up to Speed with Your Growing Kids

The Tween Challenge has definitely hit our house.

I have been an early years teacher for over 20 years and would consider myself an expert on young children, especially 4 to 6 year olds as that is where the bulk of my experience has been.  However, now that my own kids are beyond that, I am totally in foreign territory.

I find as the mom of a tween, I am constantly having to “right the ship” and make adjustments in my parenting.  Everyday seems to bring with it new questions or situations that I was in no way prepared for and quite honestly I often don’t have a clue how to respond.  I am always seeking knowledge, good advice and sound parenting tips from books, friends and family, and/or Google to help me through.

What is a Tween Anyways?

When people refer to a tween, they are often referring to a child between the ages of 10 and 12….bigger and more mature than a child, but not yet a teenager.

What makes the tween years so challenging are the overwhelming number of changes that tweens encounter in this short span of their lives. They are no longer early years students, but now walk the halls and hang-out with the middle years students in the school.  With the move to “middle years” comes extra opportunity and responsibility.  Students are often able to opt into clubs and join school teams that were not offered to them as an early years student.  Perhaps they’d like to be a patrol, or a library helper or maybe join a school leadership team.  All of the new opportunities are very exciting, but at the same time can be taxing on some kids, especially if they make too many commitments, in addition to those they have outside of school.  Often tweens also have a heavier classroom work load and additional homework.

Other Tween Changes and Challenges 

If all of the above is not enough for a child that has just hit double digits, lets add the early onset of puberty to the mix.  This is an excerpt from an article published in The Observer, in 2012.

They found that in 1860, the average age of the onset of puberty in girls was 16.6 years. In 1920, it was 14.6; in 1950, 13.1; 1980, 12.5; and in 2010, it had dropped to 10.5.

Alarming!  It just seems so young to have to face so many changes in their body.  I believe that this is especially hard for tween girls.  Many young girls bulk-up prior to puberty.  It is their body’s way of preparing for what is to come.  While still trying to understand this and come to terms with their new fuller form, many tweens are also beginning to develop breasts and start their first period, but of course, that is not all.  They discover they don’t smell as pretty as they used to and now have to shower every day and wear deodorant. To top that off they have hair on their legs that makes them feel too embarrased to dress for the weather and thus they sweat even more!  Ugh!  Where does the maddness stop? How about the daily barrage of images of “flawless” girls with “perfect” faces and bodies plastered over every billboard, advertisement, magazine, etc.  Check out the Dove video called Beauty Pressure to see what are girls are dealing with.

Tweens Are Often Lost in the Gap Between Childhood and a Teenager

It is no wonder tweens are so confused and emotional.  They mourn the blissful childhood that seemed to end in a blink and yet are excited about being “more grown-up”. So many mixed emotions, coupled with the multiple physical and social changes they are feeling can sometimes leave a tween feeling alone and sad, despite having people around them that love them deeply.

Self-esteem is a raising issue and I believe that tweens just don’t have the maturity to process all of these changes and feelings the way that our “16.6” year old ancestors did in the 1860’s.  The young ladies of the 1800’s were going through puberty shortly before becoming an adult, while ours have just stepped out of their early years classrooms.  Yikes!

What Can We Do to Support Our Young Girls Through This Process?

I certainly don’t have many answers and believe that if there is a mistake to be made, I have done it.  However, I have found some really great resources that I would love to share.

  1. If you have not yet watched these videos, they are produced by Dove and really great in helping to understand body image:  Dove Real Beauty Sketches, The Evolution of Beauty
  2. Learn and talk about Body Image and Self-Esteem.  Gain an understanding of the differences between the two.
  3. Know and understand the stages of puberty so that you can be ready for them and observe where your daughter is at.
  4. If you are interested, Dove also has a PDF that makes a great reference.  It is a Teacher’s book from one of their Self-Esteem courses, so it is very relevant.
  5. I heard about a great magazine for young girl’s called Moon Magazine. We have just ordered a subscription.
  6. Unfortunately, I just learned about this course and how excellent it was through my cousin who went through it with her daughter.  I called to register and we are first on the waiting list because the class for this fall is full.  It is called Mothers and Daughters in Touch and sounds amazing.
If you are like me, you just want to say and do the right things, and I certainly do not always get it right (by a long shot).  However, I believe that knowledge, when applied and mixed with lots of prayers, greatly improves my chances!  Good luck out there!