How ‘Thinspiration’ is Killing the
Self-Esteem of Young Girls
3 Ways to Fight Negative Reinforcement on the Journey to Self-Appreciation from Woman’s Advocate
Conventional thinking has flown out the window for advertisers who want to attract women to their product, according to a new report from the University of Manitoba and University of Michigan.
The report is based off of three studies that conclude blatant, in-your-face content featuring thin, young models actually turn off a woman’s desire for the product; subjects saw the pitch as too transparent. This recognition alerted an individual’s defense mechanism, which actually boosted self-esteem. But when and an idealized model was used to sell a product with more subtlety, subjects were more prone to want the product and be the woman in the advertisement.
“So, this study has some mixed good news, but there’s still an avalanche of negativity pulling down our girls and young women; according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, roughly 70 percent of girls in middle and high school, and even as young as fifth grade, say idealized images of women in magazines guide their sense of the perfect body,” says women’s advocate Stacey Rowcliffe, author of “Female Fusion: Different Flowers from the Same Garden,” (www.staceyrowcliffe.com).
“There’s even a blog called ‘thinspiration,’ or ‘thinspo,’ which features young women and girls writing about ways and experiences in losing massive amounts of weight. With this kind of mindset, a girl is never skinny enough and often results in anorexia, bulimia and an imprisoning sense of never being good enough.”
Rowcliffe says the primary influence on a girl’s life is the older woman raising her; she offers three perspectives in which older women may offer advice to girls and young women:
• Past pains shape character and provide inner strength: Many people may think of Christina Aguilera as a pampered pop diva; however, in reality, she has worked hard and endured a difficult home life as a small child. As a 10-year-old, she had already gained a reputation as a little girl with a big voice. Later, after having become a world-famous celebrity, she cited domestic violence in her home as a reason for her enduring drive and passionate voice. Just as muscle is developed and built with tension, so too challenging situations builds and defines character.
• Keeping it real … Young women need to understand that much of what is seen on television and internet ads, billboards and in magazines has been altered far beyond what is real. Digital imaging has made it possible to remove cellulite and other flaws before an image is finalized. There are videos available that show just how much a model is transformed before being photographed, and the before-and-after images are drastically different. Additionally, cosmetic surgery plays upon the fears of young and beautiful women who still feel the need to implement botox, breast implants, facelifts, nose lifts, cellulite removal, tummy tucks, butt implants and the like. Women were created to be beautiful; once that is realized, her inner beauty will shine.
• Relationships (among family, friends, boyfriends & sisters): Every issue, belief, attitude or assumption not only shapes the relationships between you and other human beings; it shapes the relationship you have with yourself! The above points – accepting past pain and being honest with yourself and others – are intimately linked to your relationship with others. How you treat others is a measure of who you are. If you are obsessed with trying to be the prettiest and thinnest girl in class, it’s a clear sign you are not comfortable in your own skin.
About Stacey Rowcliffe
Stacey Rowcliffe is nearing completion of her master’s degree in clinical psychology. She lives in Billings, Mont., with her two children, Brittney and Ryan, who both have Type 1 diabetes. “Female Fusion” is her second published book. Rowcliffe believes that no matter what people are battling, their mindset and response determine the paths their lives take.