Why the Message of Addie B. Strong is
Important for Young Girls Today
As parents and guardians know, today’s children are the most wired and tech savvy generation yet, spending a whopping average of more than 53 hours a week in front of screens; more than any other activity, in fact, including school, family, sports, or even sleep. And while there are any number of recognized benefits to be realized from the media content that reaches kids through their “screen time,” children’s organizations often report on the unrealistic perceptions of beauty among girls that can come from the constant stream of advertising they are exposed to, which can then lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self-esteem.
In fact, a Kaiser Foundation study by Nancy Signorielli found that:
- In movies, particularly, but also in television shows and the accompanying commercials, women's and girls' appearance is frequently commented on: 58 percent of female characters in movies had comments made about their looks, as did 28 percent in television shows and 26 percent of the female models in the accompanying commercials. Mens' and boys' appearance is talked about significantly less often in all three media: a quarter (24%) of male characters in the movies, and 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in television shows and commercials.
- One in every three (37%) articles in leading teen girl magazines also included a focus on appearance, and most of the advertisements (50%) used an appeal to beauty to sell their products.
- The commercials aimed at female viewers that ran during the television shows most often watched by teen girls also frequently used beauty as a product appeal (56% of commercials). By comparison, this is true of just 3 percent of television commercials aimed at men.
According to the National Institute on Media and the family:
- In a survey of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40% have tried to lose weight. At age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that:
- Each year millions of people in the United States are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders. More than 90 percent of those afflicted are adolescent and young adult women.