Just the Way You Are

I'm sure you've all heard this song by now, but I just wanted to point out how great I think it is!

It's nice to hear a song that doesn't just refer to women as "sexy" or "hot." And it's especially great to hear a song that tells girls they're "amazing, just they way [they] are!"

Bruno Mars (the singer) also points out a problem that, unfortunately, is way too prevalent in our culture. He says:

Yeah I know, I know
When I compliment her
She wont believe me
And its so, its so
Sad to think she don't see what I see

How many times do we do this? Do you ever find yourself brushing off compliments? When people tell you, Your hair looks great! do you say, "Thanks!" or do you answer with "You really think so? My hair looks awful today! I didn't have any time to do it, so I just threw it up!"  I know I do this, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.
It is sad that so many girls don't "see what others see." We are so busy critiquing ourselves that we don't believe it when other people compliment our appearances. I know I fall into this trap on a regular basis! The truth is that other people don't notice that tiny zit I've been freaking out about or the bags under my eyes or that I don't think I look "as good as usual." We are way more critical of our own appearances than others are!
So let's all try a little harder to remember:

Girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

You know what I'm going to do? This next week, I'm going to try and catch myself every time I think a critical thought. And when I do, I'm going to play that refrain in my head. Cause girl you're amazing, just the way you are. Maybe I'll even change "girl" to "Kell" to make it a little more personal.
Cause Kell you're amazing, just the way you are.

And so are you.

Try it with me?
Please? :)



Complimentary, part 2

Okay...well, it's a bit more than a week later.
Sorry. :\

So, for one week, I tried to go without complimenting anyone on their appearance.
It was HARD!

I never realized just how often I praise people on appearance-based things. Often times, I’m not even complimenting them as a person; I’m telling them how much I like their boots or their necklace. I actually did a pretty good job about refraining from giving these types of compliments, but there were a couple times when I slipped up. I like to compliment people, but I didn’t realize how shallow most of my compliments are!

During the week, I also became more aware of how often people compliment me on appearance-based things. I found myself really wishing that someone would tell me, “Kelli, you’re such a great dancer!” or “Kelli, you are just the kindest person I know!” I actually felt kind of disappointed when people told me things like “Your hair is really cute!” because I was working so hard to notice more important traits. During the whole week, I don’t recall getting anything but appearance-based compliments. Once or twice I even had a silly thought...Isn't there anything about me that people like? Or do they just like my outfits?

It was very interesting to notice how many appearance-based compliments were flying around. I think we commend each other’s appearances so often because it’s so easy. We all like to make others feel good, but it seems that we don’t like to put too much effort into thinking of something to say. It was actually challenging to find ways to compliment people--I really had to delve into their personality and find something I admired about them. Even though it wasn’t easy, I think that it was an extremely good experience.

Two very good things that came out of this challenge:
1. I found myself appreciating people more.
2. I made people smile--and they weren't just "Oh, thanks, I got it at Nordstrom" smiles. They were genuine "Wow, thanks! You seriously just made my day" smiles.

Try it out. I dare you. :)




After a very long absence, I'm back!

I really do apologize. I have so much going on that it's a wonder I can upkeep even one blog!
If you haven't checked out my other blog, do! I post pretty regularly and I like to think that I have interesting things to say :)

I'm planning on posting more frequently here as well! I've been thinking a lot recently about the topics this blog is centered around. So...hold me to it :) If I don't start posting, get on my case!

Anyways, my favorite class this semester is my Psychology of Gender class. I really wasn't too excited about taking this required course, but I love it! I am learning so much. And, my teacher feels very strongly about a lot of the same issues I do (e.g. sexualization in the media), so we have a lot of really great discussions about them.

In fact, this week we watched a clip from the movie "Reviving Ophelia," which is based on a book of the same name. In the film, the book's author (Mary Pipher) gave some suggestions of ways that we can help girls understand that they have worth which extends beyond their physical appearance. One of the suggestions that she gave to boys in particular was to compliment girls on things other than appearance.

So, our teacher gave us this assignment: for a week, we need to refrain from making any appearance-based compliments! She told us that whenever we feel like complimenting someone on the way they look, we need to stop and compliment them on something else. At the same time, she asked us not to abstain from giving compliments because we're only used to commenting on others' appearances; she wants us to focus on praising people for things that are lasting, such as their character traits.

I've only been doing it for two days so far, and boy...it's hard!

I realized that I give out a lot of appearance-based compliments. I kept having to stop myself from saying things like "You look so cute!" or "I love your outfit!" And, I'll admit--I did slip up and compliment one girl on her appearance at work yesterday (don't tell!).

Here's my challenge to you: try it with me! See if you can go for a week without complimenting people on their appearance. Really make an effort to compliment them on other things. So far, I've praised people on their cheerfulness, dancing abilities, kindness, and ability to put together great outfits (Okay...that last one is kind of pushing it! But her outfit was just too CUTE! I had to say something!)

So...can you do it? I promise, it's harder than it looks! :)
At the end of the week, I'll tell you about my experiences. Take the challenge--I'd love to hear how it goes!



Miss Utah!

I have completely neglected this blog...forgive me! I guess I'd have a little bit more motivation to keep updating it if I knew that people actually read it.

Anyways, I competed in the Miss Utah pageant about a month and half ago...it's kind of the anticipated high moment of being a local title holder. It was a great experience! I wrote about it on my other blog, Blissful Nothingness. You can check out the post about how I did here. I also have another post from that blog that focuses on breaking the pageant stereotypes here if you're interested. :)

So, again, I apologize. I'd like to upkeep this blog and keep posting things, but I'm just going to get busier with school starting and it's going to get even harder. However, I'm really going to try to post something occasionally!



This Girl Knows the Meaning of Self-Confidence!

I absolutely LOVE this video! It is so cute.

Kids often have such a strong sense of who they are...this little girl is exhibiting extreme self-confidence, self-esteem, AND self-acceptance! It might seem a little bit silly to imagine ourselves doing something like this...looking into the mirror and saying things we love about our lives...but why should it be silly? Maybe if we were to tell ourselves more often, "I love my hair, I love my haircuts...I can do anything good!" we might be more prone to start believing it. Somehow, in the transition from childhood to adulthood, we lose this sense of happiness and excitement that comes just from being alive. So why not try it out?

TRY IT OUT: Start saying a daily affirmation to yourself. Last post, I talked about making a promise..."I promise to always love my _____." Every day you look in the mirror, make an effort to tell yourself how much you love this feature, whatever it is. Wow, my hair looks great today! or I'm so lucky that my hair always does what I want it to do! Each day, start noticing other things you love about yourself and make sure to vocalize them.



Self-Esteem part 2

Last time we talked a little about what self-esteem was and the negative effects that low self-esteem can have on girls.
But what are some ways to help foster high self-esteem?
Girl Scouts' uniquely ME! gives a list that I think is a good place to start from. These tips are all simple, straight forward things that girls can work on every day. They're probably things you've heard before, and you might think, "Are doing these things REALLY going to help boost my self-esteem?
YES! But self-esteem isn't something you can build in a day. It takes time. I think that these tips can help out.

  1. Celebrate you!
    Reward yourself when you have accomplished something! You don't need to wait for others to recognize what you've done.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people.
    Spend time with people who are upbeat and feel good about themselves. They, in turn, will put a smile on your face and help you feel good about yourself.
  3. Challenge yourself to try new things.
    Try a ropes course, learn some new dance steps, speak in front of a large group. Stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new things is a great way to grow.
  4. Be good to your body.
    Exercising, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep will help you move toward a healthier you—inside and out!
  5. Find and express the real you.
    No other person has the unique combination of qualities that you have! Be proud of yourself and be courageous enough to express your true feelings.
  6. Have a positive mental attitude.
    A positive attitude is contagious! You'll feel good and people will want to hang out with you.
  7. Learn from your experiences.
    Learn from your actions—both good and bad, and use the knowledge you gain to make positive decisions in the future.
  8. Find the humor in everyday life.
    When you can see the funny side of things, you'll be less stressed and more likely to handle tough situations better.
"I Promise to Always Love My..."
Last week I had the opportunity to  speak to a cheer camp for girls in junior high. I had them do something differently than I had the elementary school girls do. We talked a little about what to do when we look in the mirror and see something we don't like about ourselves. Obviously, it's hard to convince ourselves that our hair looks fine if we're having a bad hair day.
However, I think most everyone has something that they almost always love about themselves. Maybe it's their eyes, their smile, the way they keep their nails manicured.
Pick one thing about your appearance that you do love.
Make a promise to yourself...I want you to actually say this out loud. "I promise to always love me ______!" For me, I would probably choose my smile.
Remember that you made a promise to yourself to always love this part of you. When you start complaining about the way you look. I want you to focus instead on the part of you that you love. 

- Kelli 


What is Self-Esteem?

Another program that I think is awesome for fostering girls' self-esteem is the Girl Scouts' uniquely ME! program. Girl Scouts is partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Fund that I mentioned in my last post. Anyways, they created their program in 2002 to help girls face life's challenges while building self-esteem. The program addresses topics such as handling peer pressure, healthy eating, the power of positive thinking, and relationships. I especially love their tagline:
"you can change the way you look or you can change the way the world looks at girls." 
 You can check out their website here for more information.

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about what self-esteem is, and I mentioned uniquely ME! because that's where I'm pulling my information from. A lot of it is word for word. They have one of the best definitions of self-esteem that I've found and I love the way they discuss it. (Plus, you know I'm not just making this up!)

So what IS self-esteem?
According to the National Association for Self-Esteem ,someone who possesses self-esteem feels capable of meeting life’s challenges and also feels worthy of experiencing happiness. Individuals with high self-esteem can be characterized by the following traits: 
• Tolerance and respect for others
• Ability to accept responsibility for their actions
• Having integrity
• Taking pride in their accomplishments
• Being self-motivated
• Willingness to take risks
• Being capable of handling criticism
• Being loving and lovable
• Seeking the challenge and stimulation of worthwhile goals
• Wanting to take control of their lives

Self-esteem means having confidence in oneself, in addition to being capable of feeling self-satisfaction. It is important to note that a strong sense of self esteem is based on values and self awareness; it is not a sense of "false bravado", which often contributes to bullying behaviors.

What causes low self-esteem? (List taken from "Empowering Teens To Build Self-Esteem,” Suzanne E. Harrill, M.Ed. 1993.)
• Believing the negative and hurtful words and
actions of others
• Living with people who did not or do not love
and respect themselves
• Having negative thoughts about performance,
looks, family income level and I.Q.
• Being under or over-protected as a child
• Not being taught “I am good and of value and
loved no matter what”
• Doubting the love of one or both parents (the
absence of parents also hurts)
• Being punished without ever being taught to
separate self from bad behaviors
• Being compared to others or to perfect standards
that cannot be met
• Thinking that “you” are your possessions,
clothes, car, grades, job, looks, or I.Q.

Why is low self-esteem so dangerous?
Low self-esteem is becoming more and more prevalent among pre-adolescent and adolescent girls in our country. Research conducted by organizations including the Dove Self-Esteem Fund demonstrates that risky behaviors (smoking, drinking, cutting) and eating disorders are often associated with low self-esteem.
Do you remember some of the statistics I reported in my initial post? Well, here's a re-cap...

Low self-esteem significantly impacts girls' feelings about their own beauty:
• 71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up – they report not
feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish/trendy enough (compared to 29% of girls with high selfesteem).
• 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel
good about how you look
• 92% of girls think they need to change something about themselves to be beautiful

Low self-esteem negatively affects girls' confidence in all areas of their life:
• 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including based on their looks, performance in school and in their relationships with friends and family members.
• 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves.

Girls with low self-esteem are significantly more likely to engage in dangerous and/or negative behaviors:
• 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking, or drinking when feeling badly about themselves (compared to 25% of girls with high self-esteem).
• 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem practice disordered eating, such as starving themselves,
refusing to eat, or over-eating and throwing up when they are feeling badly about themselves (compared to 7% of girls with high self-esteem).
• 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem resort to injuring themselves on purpose or cutting when they are feeling badly about themselves (compared to 4% of girls with high self-esteem).
• 61% of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves (compared to 15%
of girls with high self-esteem).

“Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem” commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, 2008.

I think that those statistics are scary, and unfortunately, low self-esteem is more pervasive than ever before. What do you think? Were these statistics surprising to you?
So I think it's pretty clear that we need to help girls build self-esteem. But how do we go about doing this? Well, that's going to be the focus of my next few posts! So, stay tuned!



Moms--Talk to Your Daughters!

When I was talking to the girls the other week, we discussed where we get our ideas about beauty. While most of them agreed that the media influenced how they thought about themselves, most of them also said that their family influenced their views of the world, particularly in regards to beauty. You have a greater influence on your daughters than you think!
How many times have you looked in the mirror while your children were around and said something along the lines of, "Wow, Mom sure needs to lose weight!" or "Yikes, I look so fat!" You are your daughter's role model, and the way you view yourself and your body will influence the way she views hers.
79% of all women agree that that there is a need to start talking to girls early in life about what real beauty is, and 72% hope that they have not passed on feelings of doubt or insecurity to their daughters.
Are you one of those women?

If so, have you started talking to your daughters about beauty? Like many girls, as I hit adolescence and puberty, I had a lot of questions and wasn't really sure what to think about beauty. Girls are influenced from numerous sources about how they should look and how they should treat their bodies, and it can be so confusing! All of a sudden, I felt like nothing about me looked right. I needed to pluck my eyebrows, shave my legs, color my hair, grow a few inches, start wearing makeup, buy new clothes, etc. And obviously, these aren't all bad things...but it can be hard. Even though my mom and I always had a good relationship, I felt kind of embarrassed to talk to her about those sorts of things.

Communicating with your daughter is one of the most important things you can do! Develop a relationship in which she knows she can come to you when she has questions or insecurities. Did you know that the top wish among girls is that their parents would communicate better with them – including more frequent and more open conversations about what is happening in their own lives?

A great way to do this is by using the True You! workbook, put out by Dove. I'm a big supporter of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and of the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, and I love this guide that they've put together for moms and daughters who are just starting to hit adolescence. Check it out, and let me know what you think!
Guide for Moms
Workbook for Moms and Daughters



Check This Out!

Last week, I went to visit some elementary schools and got the chance to talk to some 4th and 5th grade girls. We talked a little bit about where we get our ideas about what beauty is and how to build self-acceptance in a world where we're told day in and day out about how we should look. Here's a little peek at part of the presentation I did...

 TV and magazines tell us we should look like these people:

So what happens if we don't?

The truth is, most of don't look like super models or movie stars...and that's OKAY!

The media presents an unrealistic standard of what beauty is. The often tell us how we should look because they are trying to sell us something; they want us to think that if we buy their clothes or makeup, we will look like the people in their ads.

A lot of the pictures in ads are NOT REAL! Even super models aren't always as gorgeous as they appear.

Check out this awesome video:

How does this video make you feel? I remember the first time I saw it, I was blown away! I knew that pictures in magazines were often touched up, but I had no idea just how much they could do to them! 
The girls were equally shocked. We all agreed that this picture wasn't really real, and we wondered if the woman in it would be able to recognize herself if she were the one walking by the billboard.

My blog's focus so far has been on the different tactics used by the media that often make us feel less than adequate. I'm now going to start focusing my posts on helping girls build self-esteem and self-acceptance. A lot of my posts are actually going to be directed towards parents. And, true to my promise, I'm going to be updating a lot more often.



Miss USA Controversy

First off...I have been a terrible blogger! I have not done a good job at updating with regular posts, and I apologize. I'm going to do a much better job about posting, I promise!

I just wanted to discuss the recent controversy surrounding the Miss USA pageant since I feel like it applies really strongly my platform.
I'm sure that many of you are aware of the recent scandal that ensued when photographs of Miss USA contestants in lingerie were revealed. This is hardly anything new; the Miss USA pageant has a history of contestants losing titles over racy photographs. However, the shock this time was that these photographs were sanctioned and endorsed by the Miss USA organization. Even though last year's Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean, received flak when racy photos of her were released, the organization decided that this year it would be appropriate to have each contestant participate in a "glamor shoot" wearing little more than lingerie, stilettos, and fishnets.

Unlike Miss America, Miss USA is strictly a beauty pageant. Contestants are expected to be physically attractive, and according to the Miss Universe Organization, "[C]ontestants who compete for the title of Miss USA [should not be] afraid to be sexy." Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA 2004, also defended the pictures by saying that they proved how "relevant" and "with the times" the Miss USA pageant is; according to her, a woman of today should be "fun, flirty, and sexy" because that's what you see when you open up a magazine.
Does anyone else see a problem here?
What message is the Miss USA organization sending to America? They claim to be an organization that empowers women, yet they have degraded their contestants into objects to be looked at and lusted after. They seem to be sending the message that a woman's value does not come from her accomplishments, intelligence, or contributions to society, but comes solely from her sex appeal. Is this the message that we want to be sending to the men, women, or children of our country? Do we want our girls to grow up striving to be sexy rather than successful? Finnessey seems to think so, as she expressed the belief that Miss USA is a good role model because she's "trained to live in 2010...she's sexy, she's confident, she's relevant."
What do you think? Will you promote Miss USA as a role model for your daughters? Will you show them the lingerie pictures and encourage them to grow up to be sexy?

The full interview with Shandi Finnessey about the provocative photos, from Fox News, can be found here. It's a very interesting video and I would suggest watching it. It also explains a few of the differences between the Miss America and Miss USA pageants, which I feel is a very important distinction to understand. I strongly believe in the Miss America Organization, which is a scholarship program for young women, and I find it unfortunate that so many people confuse the two pageants.

Really quickly:
Miss America is a non-profit organization where contestants compete to win scholarship money. Although sometimes referred to as a beauty pageant, only 35% of a contestant's score comes from evening gown and swimwear. The majority of their score depends on their talent performance and their interview. Each contestant has a service platform that she promotes during her year of reign. The contestant crowned as Miss America also promotes the Children's Miracle Network, which is a national partner of the Miss America Organization.

Miss USA is a part of the Miss Universe Organization and is a competition to select the USA's entrant into the Miss Universe pageant. It is strictly a beauty pageant, although contestants do compete in interview. There is no talent portion, and contestants do not have a service platform.


Sexualization Defined: Innapropriate Imposition

The fourth condition of sexualization, when it is inappropriately imposed upon a person, is especially relevant to children. Children do not usually choose to be exposed to sexually charged images, so that means it is imposed,or forced, upon them. Unfortunately, this is occurring more and more often.Take a look at these Bratz dolls:I love what the APA Task Force says about Bratz dolls:
Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality. The objectified sexuality presented by these dolls, as opposed to the healthy sexuality that develops as a normal part of adolescence, is limiting for adolescent girls, and even more so for the very young girls who represent the market for these dolls.

Some parents even force sexuality on their daughters. One prime example are toddler pageants, where young girls are paraded around a stage in revealing outfits and more makeup than many adults wear. Here's a picture from the TV show "Toddlers and Tiaras":
I don't know about you, but I think this is a little bit frightening.

So What's the Big Deal?
Like we talked about with the other components of sexualization, children (especially girls) get the wrong idea about what qualities are valued in people. The girls on Toddlers and Tiaras get so used to hearing how "cute" they are in their feathers and makeup that they're going to have mixed-up ideas about what beauty really is. And when girls' playthings are scantily-clad, how are they going to feel that they should dress?


Sexualization Defined: A Narrow Standard

Whether you're flipping channels, driving down the highway, or waiting in line at the grocery store, it's hard to escape the stunning faces of celebrities smiling back at you. And it's hard to ignore the fact that they are stunning...how many times has a less-than-perfect face smiled back at you from the cover of Glamour or Vogue or People? Sometimes it can feel like we're being bombarded by reminders of what we don't look like.
Because, after all, how many of us look like Kim Kardashian?Or Megan Fox?

Or Tom Cruise?

If, by chance, you do...well lucky you! For the rest of us mere mortals, however, it can be pretty disheartening to watch a commercial or TV show and realize that we're never going to look like the people parading across the screen. Unfortunately, the media conveys a very narrow standard of beauty; they can make it easy to believe that to be physically attractive, a person must be sexy. And it's not just adults who are taught this; even children, especially as they begin hitting pre-adolescent and teenage years, are made to believe this as well. I mean, just look at the stars they idolize:
Stars are glamorous and sexy, and that's not going to change. Sexiness sells. What can change, however, is the way we view these images. We can either look at them and think, "Wow, that must be how I'm supposed to look. What can I change about myself to look like them?" or we can view them and think, "Wow, they sure are beautiful, but that's why they're famous. Most people don't look like that, nor do they need to. It's unrealistic for me to think that if I lose weight or get plastic surgery I will look like them."

So What's the Big Deal?

Ever hear of anorexia or bulimia? If people buy into the beliefs that to be attractive or liked, they must be sexy, they begin to feel that they must change themselves so that they, too, are sexy. In fact, 92% of girls think they need to change something about themselves to be beautiful. And unfortunately, they begin to think that being beautiful means being sexy. Sexiness generally requires being thin, so many girls take drastic measures to achieve what the media says is the ideal body weight.
Even if someone doesn't become anorexia, they may seek other potentially dangerous methods of changing themselves, like plastic surgery. And why? Because they have developed a bad self-image thanks to our friends in the advertising business.


Sexualization Defined: Objectification

Sexually objectified advertisements often feature women's body parts rather than a whole person. They are not seen as a "person with capacity for independent action and decision making;" nope, they're just seen as another product to purchase, like Victoria Beckham's legs in this Marc Jacobs ad. There is also a strong suggestion of violence because of the disembodied legs.

Another common objectified body part is a woman's
mouth, as shown i
n this Burger King ad:

Sexual objectification also applies when a person is "made into a thing for others' sexual use."
Think of all the ads you've seen where women are portrayed in submissive, sexual poses.

So What's the Big Deal?
Girls learn to think of themselves in objectified terms. This self-objectification is a process whereby girls learn to think of and treat their bodies as objects of others' desires. They learn to treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance.
Objectification also strongly affects males' perceptions of girls. When boys and men view girls and women as sexual objects, they become unable to relate to other aspects of their nature or characteristics. At the extreme end of things, it can lead to increased violence against women, including sexual abuse or assault.

Sexualization Defined

Media stereotypes and the negative impact of sexualization on girls

We're all aware of how women are often portrayed in the media. I know you've seen magazine ads, commercials, and internet advertisements that show women half-dressed and in seductive positions.
So what's the big deal?

Sexualization of women and girls has
become an increasing problem. The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was formed to examine and research the sexualization of girls through media and other cultural messages, focusing particularly on the prevalence of these messages and their impact on girls. In 2004, they produced a report that examined the issues related to sexualization in advertising, especially in regards to children. In my next few posts, I'll be presenting the findings of the report. A summary of the report can be found here.

First off, the report defines sexualization.
There are four components that constitute sexualization. The wording used is the exact wording used in the report.
  • A person's value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.
  • A person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy
  • A person is sexually objectified--that is, made into a thing for others' sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making
  • Sexuality is inappropriately imposed on a person
The first time I read these four components, they all sounded the same to me, and I'll admit that I didn't really understand exactly what they meant. To help you out, I've searched the internet for ads that fit each one of these components. Keep in mind that many ads feature more than one of them.
This post will focus on the first component: that a person's value comes only from their sexual appeal.

Sexual Appeal

Many ads portray women in a light that makes it seem like their value comes only from their sexual appeal or behavior, often to the exclusion of other characteristics.
The women in these ads might be intelligent, funny, compassionate, or even extremely accomplished tap dancers, but you wouldn't be able to tell that from the ad. The ad only focuses on their sexual appeal in order to sell a product.

Carl's Jr. commercials are notorious for doing this:

This phenomena also appears quite often in popular music. Think of all the songs that make it seem as though looks and sexiness are the only characteristics that are important in a female. Although it is more prevalent in genres like hip hop or rap, it unfortunately pervades many types of music. Consider the country song sung by Trace Adkins--"Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." The whole focus of the song is about a woman's butt. We don't know a single thing about this woman except that a)she has a big rear end and b) the men all like to stare at it ("We hate to see her go but love to watch her leave").

So what's the problem?
By portraying women as being little more than sexually appealing, the media makes it appear as though this is the only desirable quality in women. When girls see these ads, what do they start to believe about themselves? Do these commercials or songs encourage them to excel in school, stand up for themselves, or to polish their talents? No. They come away believing that sexiness is the most important characteristic a person can have.
I want you to also consider what these ads are telling boys about how girls should be. Do they encourage men to respect and love a woman for her personality? Or are they telling them that it is more important for a woman to be sexy?


A New Definition

If beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, then why has there become such a narrow idea of what the word "beautiful" means?
The name of my blog, re-defining beauty, is meant to emphasize that not only is there a need to redefine beauty, but there is also a need to define beauty for ourselves in the first place...hence the hyphenated name. I wanted it to not only say "redefining beauty" but "defining beauty" as well.
Obviously, it won't be easy to redefine beauty for ourselves or others, but I hope that this blog will help you realize just how important it can be.

TRY IT: Start thinking about how you define beauty in your own life. Start looking around you at people that you consider beautiful and notice what it is about them that stands out. Why do you consider them to be beautiful? Did you decide for yourself that they were "beautiful people" or did someone else decide it for you (and you just accepted it)?



What is beauty?

I am constantly bombarded with other people's answers to this question. Everywhere I look, it seems like someone else is telling me how I should dress, act, cut my hair, do my makeup...
In other words, I am frequently being told
what beauty is and what I need to do to fit the standard.
And I know I'm not the only one.

This happens to every one of us every single day. It seems like we can't escape it--whether we're turning on the TV, flipping through a magazine, logging onto Facebook, or even just walking down the street, we are assailed with images of what the world wants us to view as beautiful. In fact, we are subjected to over
3,000 advertisements a day, 90% of which are sexualized images portraying the bodies of women in some form. These ads endorse a narrow and unrealistic standard of physical beauty while conveying the message that a person's value comes only from his or her sexual appeal, even to the exclusion of other characteristics.
What does this mean to the nation's girls?
More and more girls, especially those ages 8-17, are developing low self-esteem. Seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, and many admit that it is hard to do well in school when they don't feel good about the way they look. Seventy-five percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in unhealthy activities such as disordered eating, cutting, smoking, or drinking.

It is disheartening to realize what many girls in this country are going through. That's why I intend to focus on educating girls and their families about the importance of cultivating self-esteem by helping them embrace their own beauty and adopt positive attitudes about their bodies.

My name is Kelli Dougal, and I am Miss Carbon County Utah 2010. Basically, I am a titleholder at the local level of the Miss America pageant. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Miss America Organization, each contestant has a platform that she focuses on during the year of her reign. My platform is entitled
Redefining Beauty, and it focuses on promoting self-esteem and self-acceptance.
This problem is huge, and it affects a lot more people than just the girls in Carbon County. So, I decided to make a blog in order to reach out to people everywhere dealing with these issues.

My blog is going to be divided up into three parts:
1) Media stereotypes and the negative impact of sexualization on girls
2) Helping girls build self-esteem and self-acceptance
3) Guides for parents to help their daughters

Well, that's the plan. This blog is going to be a work in progress and I plan on having regular updates. I hope you'll be able to realize why this issue is so important to me and that I can help you understand how it affects you in your own life. I also hope that something I say will strike a chord with you--if I can help even just one girl to see herself in a new light, then I consider that a success.