Editorial, by Célia Roh, MIDE intern, 14 February 2019

2019 02 14 ED beaute C Roh

Why do so many young people around the world, no matter how physically fit they are, hate their bodies as they are?

Today, the ideals of beauty, often conveyed by the mass media, are largely unrealistic and unattainable for most human beings. This inaccessibility is detrimental to the physical and psychological well-being of many people, especially young people. In 2017, Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence reported that more than 5,000 girls from all over the world (India, United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Germany, Russia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia), aged between 10 and 17, were interviewed to examine the impact and pressure of their body image on their self-esteem. This study found that more than half of the girls surveyed do not have a high regard for their body image, which has daily consequences - ranging from avoiding to see their friends and family, stopping to eat, putting their health at risk, until they cannot assert their own opinions.

Even more worrying, Alex Shaw and Ike Silver questioned the thinking of children when they are in a group and if they find it important to project positive images of themselves. The results of this research have shown that they begin to be concerned about the impression they make on others, and therefore their body image, from the age of 5 years. The more children are exposed to the media, the more likely they are to believe that the models presented here are true standards of beauty. However, they do not realize that these images are often unrealistic.

States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) should, by Article 17, recognize the importance of the function performed by the media, while ensuring that children have access to information to promote social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. In addition, according to the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child from the 2014 Day of General Discussion on the Rights of the Child and the Digital Media, States should encourage the media to disseminate information and materials presenting a social and cultural use for children, for example, to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

However, the media portrays unrealistic images to young girls and boys who lack the cognitive ability to distinguish truth from fiction. That's why we need to help children develop the resilience they need to overcome the impact of beauty and appearance, by making them aware of their personal values, or by highlighting cultural diversity.
If children are constantly comparing themselves to something that does not exist, how can they be satisfied with what they see in the mirror?

NB: The editorial does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IDE board and team.

Picture: Pxhere

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