Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Silent Epidemic...

I've had this idea for awhile now... but wasn't sure how to word it or what to say, so I've never posted this post that's been rattling around my brain for months. But, today I heard the most disturbing thing. I heard that Howard Stern and his snarkette female counterpart were discussing Gabourey Sidibe (star and Oscar nominee for the movie Precious) and they determined in their infinite wisdom that she will never get another acting job again. His statement, though I am paraphrasing, was that no one that fat will ever succeed in Hollywood. And finally, I decided that even though I don't know the words I want to use, I am ready to say what I want to say.

It is my opinion (in my infinite wisdom) that self esteem for young girls and teens is at an all time low, and the ramifications of this societal pressure that we inflict has reached epidemic proportions. And, it makes me sad. Sad because this brainwashing isn't talked about and sad that when someone mentions it, the consensus is that it is a problem but not a damn thing ever changes. And, it is our children who suffer. Our little girls are the victims and there is no vaccine, no treatment, no prevention... because we just shake our heads and watch another Weight Watchers commercial or laugh at another photo of Tyra Banks and her cellulite and never do a damn thing about the media, magazines or movies that perpetuate a stereotype no one lives up to. (Except Heidi Klum. She does.)

Seven million girls were treated for eating disorders last year. Those are the reported cases... not the ones still suffering. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young girls and teens. And, those are just the obvious effects of our current standards that we set for our girls. How many girls sleep around with boys just to feel beautiful? How many girls let their boyfriends beat them because they didn't know that they were worth more than that? How many girls go home and cry at night because they don't look like the Prom Queen. Well, let me tell you... pretty much all of them. And, the Prom Queen is crying too. Crying because she isn't perfect either. Girls are crying because they're too fat, too thin, breasts are too big, breasts are too small, too short, too tall, too ethnic, too plain... everything. Girls are crying. And no one cares. Our standard is still the negative sized girls on 90210 and the emaciated models walking the runways. We still revere them and condemn Oscar caliber actresses because she can fill out an evening gown. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but only when telling our daughters that it's ok that she's the shortest one on her basketball team.... not when we're deciding who will grace the cover of Cosmo this month.

We need to do something. My 11 year old stepdaughter and her friends are already falling victim and it's time for us to step in and do something. Hundreds of actors, actresses and singers came out to raise funds for Haiti and while that was totally valid... who is willing to step up for this? I propose that we get a group of outstanding women together. A group including: Gabourey, Robin Roberts whose self esteem wavered from her height, Julia Roberts who hated her nose, Diane Sawyer who hated her glasses, Venus Williams who dealt with being African American playing in a "white person's" sport, Paula Deen who was once afraid to leave her house, Lisa Ling who just reported on the Chinese phenomenon of trying to look Caucasian, Kathryn Bigelow who was the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar, America Ferrera whose acting career began with shows about her being a curvy girl, Ellen DeGeneres who came out as a lesbian before it was cool, Chelsea Clinton who had to face adolescence on national news and every other female who once felt like her looks didn't measure up and yet somehow they gained the confidence to succeed in their careers.

Let's get groups of these types of women and fill football stadiums with our youth and teach them. Let them know that their feelings are the same feelings that all their friends have. That beauty really is within.... that Ellen is gorgeous, not because she is physically... but because she gives something to this world. That intelligence matters as much as pant size and what you say is equally important to the face that is saying it. Let's go across this nation, and maybe this world, to tell our girls that they can succeed at anything, with or without glasses on. I nominate Elisabeth Hasselbeck to be our emcee, as she fights for self esteem for our nation's youth every day on The View. Let's get the show started and see if we can actually put our money where our mouths are. Instead of agreeing it's a problem... let's see what we can do to fix it. Maybe then we can actually put positivity in our daughters' minds, and do more to curb the tears than just wiping them away. Let's do as much for this epidemic as we do for swine flu and tell our daughters that this is enough. They are enough.


Tuffy said...

The ironic thing is all the women you listed that should band together are very attractive as well (at least the ones who I know who they are). When television and movies portray "ugly" women using very attractive women with mussy hair (case in point, ugly Betty ain't too shabby!). Even when they try and make the point you're making they don't have the guts to actually do it.

None of that really means anything in light of your post, though... just well done. It needs to continue to be beaten into our society.

Anonymous said...

Amen Sister!
(Laura the Famous)

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Mike - That is a good point. All of those women are attractive, although not all traditionally. Is it their confidence that makes them that way, or did I just happen to pick pretty people because that is what we value? Hmmm....

LTF - Thanks!