I've never created a blog entry here before. I am aware that I don’t have the experience to be as articulate or as well versed as I would like to be, in this forum However, I saw something this morning that made me really angry and I wondered what others might think about the same issue.
I probably would have never ventured out to write a blog entry, I love reading what others have to say and it’s scary to try to express you among such pros!
However, as I was watching, my one seriously mindless television show, I became first alarmed, and then incensed at a theme that developed on this particular episode.
Now, I know that it is "reality" television and therefore probably completely scripted and maybe the point was to get people to discuss a titillating topic but I felt that they went way too far.
On, "Big Rich Texas", there is a character named, Kalyn, who lives with her godmother. This young girl has been involved in pageants for years. Apparently, Leslie (the godmother) now wants her to participate in a major pageant in Texas.
Leslie has decided that Kalyn is not thin enough. She then spent the majority of this episode focused on coercing Kalyn to do one body harmful thing after the other to lose weight.
I know that for people to participate in pageants, at that level, one must be thin. I had a friend who was a pretty successful pageant girl, I learned a lot from watching her. If a young woman decides to be involved in pageants that is one thing. There have to be some healthy ways to lose weight if she chooses to do so.
This young woman was bing pushed to do things that would, no doubt compromise her health, in the long run, and more than likely compromise her emotional well being now.
First she was told to take diet pills and her godmother explained that they were harmless since they were “all natural” All natural what does that really mean anyway? Many harmful substances are all natural that doesn’t mean that anyone needs to ingest them. More to the point, to say to another person, I care about you but I want you to take a substance to alter your body just feels so wrong. It feels like a form of abuse. I do understand that this was reality television and therefore more than likely completely scripted but the message that young girls who were watching got was not positive. Again, they hear an adult telling someone, that they can identify with, yes you are pretty but that is not good enough. Lose weight, not you are wonderful as you are, let’s see how you do in the pageant. It makes me upset even now, to think of this girl and the look on her face. It bothers me even more to think of all the impressionable girls that may have been watching this episode.
I spent the whole of my high school teenage years closely monitoring what I ate. I did everything that I could, short of forcing myself to vomit, to make sure that I stayed at an “acceptable” weight. It was the only thing that made me feel pretty.
Between my first and second daughters, I began to put on weight. I remember becoming extremely shameful about my size. Almost fifteen years later, I still remember that shame and the fight to keep a positive body self image when I began to get larger than a size 8.
What troubled me about this show, in large part, is that it felt like such a throwback. I thought women had come so much further than what was portrayed there. My mind immediately goes to the Dove commercials of a few years ago I also think of the conversations that I have read and have heard about what we, as women need to see in media. I really appreciated an article that compared the size of two models, one a runway model and the other a size 12 model.
This was such an important article, I thought.
I felt we were progressing. I have daughters and work very hard to enforce the idea that beauty originates inside of each of us. That we are responsible for how we view ourselves. I encourage healthy living but not with an emphasis on size. I have a very thin daughter that can eat whatever she likes. I also have a daughter that has a larger frame and easily gains weight. All of my daughters are beautiful, to me; I want them to be able to view themselves in that way.
When I see shows like this, I just want to beat my head into a wall. It frustrating. I know it’s only television but it’s television! I just could imagine some little girl or teenager at home watching this show and thinking of her own body and knowing that she might be a little larger than the character being encouraged to take diet pills or have liposuction. In that moment, how does she process that? What does it make her feel about herself? It would be naive to think she did not internalize the message that the godmother was sending to Kalyn.
I wish we could collectively come together, grab all of our daughters, look them in the face and say, “Yes, you are enough, you are beautiful, you are enough just as you are.” If we could do that, mean it, and have them trust our words. How great that would be! I know the idea is a bit Pollyannaish, but I still wish for it.
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