October 2, 2014
Girls starting as young as four and five are asking, “Am I fat?” The correlation between concern over self-worth and body image is becoming more pervasive and more problematic. Girls are comparing themselves against the unrealistic measuring sticks of magazine models and movie stars. They are not finding pride in their athleticism, their humor, their communication skills, or their resilience. Young women are defining their self-worth based solely on the size of their skirts.
“A growing concern in our society is the plight of female pre-adolescents and adolescents as they grow up facing many obstacles, including receiving less attention than boys in the classroom, unrealistic expectations of what they can and cannot do, decreasing self-esteem, and being judged by their physical appearance.”(Martin&Gentry)
But, who blames them? They are growing up in a world of instant access to any photo, video, or show at anytime of the day. Young people have access to reality TV shows where the stars become famous because of their bodies and their looks. The women on these shows are rude, outlandish, and spiteful…Real Housewives, The Jersey Shore, and The Kardashians are a few examples.
These are the women who young girls think they should look up to. These women, unfortunately, are not known for their friendliness, their educations, or their work ethics. They often have not even learned to be kind, to be respectful, to be confident, and to be authentic.
Authenticity is the key. Models are airbrushed and reality stars are scripted. Kids are in need of positive role models who are not wrought with spurious walk and talk. Real women. Strong women. Women who are not singularly obsessed with their weight. Women who are not worried about who did what to whom. Women who are willing to be vulnerable and empower young women to build self-confidence.
Throughout the pre-adolescent and adolescent years, moms, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, and coaches tend to be the most consistant female role models. However, some girls have the opportunity to have camp counselors as their mentors.
Camp counselors can offer a beautiful opportunity to young impressionable girls. They are women who give up their college summers to live in a cabin for months. Counselors are fun and silly. They are spirited and ambitious. They are focused on empowering your daughters. Camp embraces imperfections and insecurities that can be exacerbated at school or on sports teams. Counselors teach girls to love themselves. They have a special gift of making every girl in the cabin feel special and unique.
In this age of perfectionism, camp allows a girl just to be a girl surrounded by women who encourage that ideal. Camp is a place where girls put down their cell phones, stop watching tv, and turn off the internet. Girls have two weeks to several months of no exposure to society’s idea of beauty and are allowed to decide for themselves what true beauty looks like. They become stronger, more self-aware, and more confident.