Operation Beautiful

In America, we are obsessed with how we look.  Studies have found that by 5th grade, girls are already beginning to diet, have already looked at themselves in the mirror and thought “I’m fat.”  This just breaks my heart.  Poor body image can lead to poor-self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, and even death.  Middle school girls in the “searching for identity” phase of life are at the most risk and most adults just shake it off and say it is a phase that everyone must go through; she’ll grow out of it.  When the truth is that many do not grow out of it.  I will admit that even Queen Scarlet, who seems to have it all together, struggles with poor body image.  How can we not when we bombarded daily by unrealistic and unhealthy female bodies idealized in the media?  Currently the average fashion models weigh about 114 pounds and are 5’9” tall with a body mass index (BMI) of 16.8 (which is underweight per the NIH Body Mass Index Tables).  Claudia Schiffer has a BMI of 17.7, Naomi Campbell 16.5 and Kate Moss a whopping 16.1.  Marilyn Monroe, famous 1950’s actress, singer, model, and major sex symbol (even today) weighed 119 pounds and was 5’5.5” tall with a BMI of 19.3 (which is considered normal and healthy per today’s NIH Body Mass Index Tables).  This makes me wonder when the normal and healthy lost as being beautiful and sexy.  The beautiful today is not normal and healthy but underweight and sickly.  Our girls do not understand that what is considered beautiful today is not healthy.  As teachers, especially middle school teachers, I take it our responsibility to help change this notion.  I ran across a site for an organization today called Operation Beautiful. Their mission is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk” by scribbling down inspirational thoughts on post it notes and then leaving them in places where other girls can see.   Each day on the home page they have a Post-It Phrase of the Day.  Today’s is “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful.” Here’s the idea…my idea…why not start writing these down daily on post-it notes and then posting them in the girls bathroom at your junior high.  It is random act of kindness that can change girls’ lives.  If you say anything enough…you start to believe.  I am going to help these girls start believing and I hope you will too.

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