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Park Nicollet released a report with some staggering statistics about body image in young women including:
- 53 percent of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78 percent by the time girls reach 17.
- 46 percent of 9-11 year olds are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets, 82 percent of their families are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets.
- Over 50 percent of teen girls and 30 percent of teen boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
Pictures, movies, magazine covers—all pushing the self confidence and self love we as women and young girls should have. They speak of being confident, telling yourself you’re beautiful and sexy, and ways to fall in love with yourself that may seem fool proof. Easier said than done. A lifetime of conflicting thoughts, of “you’re not good enough,” of “maybe if you lose a few pounds you’ll be prettier and guys will like you more” breeds nothing but self doubt and hatred toward one's body and mind. As a society, we are so caught up in dress sizes, public perception, and “perfect” that from an early age, young girls are given a set of implied body and personality standards that weigh on them in everything they do. As the #Metoo movement plays out and as women stand strong against their lifelong adversities, young girls are gaining role models who show them that women can do anything and be anything, yet there is still the hole in their lives. It is like we have become programmed to find our every flaw and to hone in on it for the rest of our lives until we find something new to worry more about. Telling yourself that you’re beautiful and sexy and strong doesn’t seem to be enough anymore for some. We have created a culture in which women respond to compliments by saying, “No I’m not,” or, “I would change this about myself.” We, as women, need to break this trend for the sake of our daughters, granddaughters, and future generations. Women are seen as lesser in most areas of life and if we tell ourselves we are not pretty enough, or thin enough, or strong enough, we lose a battle that we have been fighting all of our life. So even if she tells you you’re wrong, look your friend, your mother, your grandmother, or your daughter in the eye and tell her she is loved and she is smart and she is beautiful. Having the opportunity to change the way a woman thinks about herself will start a chain reaction that cultivates an environment full of love and light. We need to be better than they say we are. Being beautiful does not always mean skinny or curvy or tall or short. It means being authentically you and accepting all of your beauty and even your flaws as pieces that make you unique and lovely. Because if we start telling them everyday, we can make small steps towards loving each other and loving ourselves. Psalm 31:25 says, “She is clothed with strength and beauty and laughs without fear of the future.” Stand by that sisters and stand tall because YOU are the best version of you. The quote always says, “Love yourself before you can love others” but focus on yourself first because you are beautiful and amazing and can do anything you want. We all need to take a step back and redefine beauty for the sake of ourselves, but especially for the sake of our children and grandchildren. I challenge you to wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful then take that energy and sprinkle it onto someone else—spread the love not the negativity.