Through The Looking Glass

Beauty is only skin deep…beauty comes from within…it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Isn’t that what our mothers and fathers told us? Not so, say many of today’s young women.

Recently, Teen People conducted a study of over 1500 young girls ages, 13-18.  It wasn’t surprising to learn that more than half (58%) said women on television, movies and in fashion magazines caused them to be very insecure about their own bodies.

Over half felt they weigh too much, while the greatest percentage said they would change something about their bodies – mainly their stomachs. Perhaps most disheartening, a third of the girls surveyed said their parents had urged them to change their weight – mainly to lose it.

Another 2005 survey reported by the Sydney Morning Herald and conducted in Australia by The Heat Group questioned over 1300 young women and discovered that 94 percent of girls aged 18 wished they were more beautiful, with young girls from all age groups admitting they would change every aspect of their appearance if they could.

An astonishing 68% believe they were less attractive than the average girl and one in four would change everything about their physical appearance if given the opportunity.

But all is not lost, due to the efforts of some very strong-minded, intuitive and opinionated teens.

Clare Dougan, a 13 year old 8th grader, is fed up with the way young women are portrayed on television and in the movies.

“We’re like second-class citizens compared to men in the movies,” says Dougan. “I do not like how girls and women are portrayed as senseless objects.”  This quote and the following appear in a recent article in LA City Beat:

‘Clare joined 76 girls and 47 adults from across the country for the fifth annual Turn Beauty Inside Out (TBIO) Conference this April, in Los Angeles. They gathered at the epicenter of superficiality to demand an alternative to the stereotypes, unimaginative story lines, and unrealistic standards of beauty that comprise Hollywood’s portrayal of women and girls. TBIO is the brainchild of the feminist girls’ magazine New Moon an acclaimed publication written and run entirely by young women. At a 1999 editorial planning retreat, members of the magazine’s Girls Editorial Board decided to dedicate an issue to the concept of inner beauty – an answer to People magazine’s annual “50 Most Beautiful People” issue. Their 25 Beautiful Girls issue generated so much buzz that New Moon decided to turn it into a year-round campaign.’  

Help the important young women in your life silence their inner critic. Support and encourage who they are today, including all the elements they want to change.

Visit Self-Acceptance: The Key to Achieving a Healthy Weight and get some more ideas about body image and self-acceptance. Take a look at some insightful questions that you might pose to the young women in your life – or answer for yourself.

One response to “Through The Looking Glass”

  1. Marsha says:


    This is such a central issue to weight struggles. As a professional working in this area — AND the mother of a 16-year-old, verging-on-womanhood female — I can’t emphasize enough the importance of self- and size-acceptance to help us maintain healthy weights. Too many of us older women started out in a good place with our weights, but because of our dissatisfaction and subsequent struggles to change to a smaller, ultimately unrealistic size for our individual bodies, we ended up with a lot more fat on our bodies than just the normal process of aging adds. How many of us look back at pictures of ourselves 5, 10, 20 or more years ago and say, “And I thought I was fat then!” Enough said.

    Thanks for the post, Cindy!