Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 7, 2014

Girls, you are beautiful

Kokomo Tribune

---- — What message are you sending to the young, impressionable girls in your life?

Have you stopped to tell your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin or the girl you baby sit or mentor that she is beautiful just the way she is?

Have you told her that you love everything about her – her intelligence, her heart and yes, her beauty?

If not, stop reading this right now and go tell her. I’m not kidding. She needs it, perhaps more than you know.

St. Mary’s College in South Bend released a report late last year taking a look at the state of young girls in Indiana. The report revealed that many high school girls have a distorted view of their body.

High school girls in Indiana were more likely to be overweight than U.S. high school girls in 2011. But the problems that exist aren’t as bad as the girls perceive them.

“In each grade, girls’ perceptions of their weight tended to be worse than it actually was,” the report said.

According to a 2011 survey, 42 percent of 10th-graders described themselves as overweight. Only 31 percent actually were.

In 2011, Indiana’s high school girls were more likely than all U.S. high school girls to take diet pills, powders or liquids, as well as vomit or take laxatives in order to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight, the report states.

What’s more, 17 percent admitted to not eating for 24 hours or more to lose weight or to prevent weight gain.

No girl should ever take such extreme measures or even feel the need to. But I get why they do. Being a girl is hard.

I had to stop weighing myself for a while because I couldn’t step on the scale without becoming obsessed with the numbers.

It took years for me to learn to love my body and its imperfections. Even now, though, the insecurities sometimes creep in.

Some might blame the media for bombarding us with airbrushed images of “perfect” women, and yeah, that’s part of it.

But we need to take responsibility for what we do to make the problem worse.

The other day I stumbled across a photo of Beyonce taken during this year’s Grammys. Yeah, I know I’m a little late to the party here, but bear with me. The message is still relevant.

The photo was circulating Facebook. Queen Bey looked stunningly beautiful in a white, lace gown. I clicked on the image to get a better look and was surprised at what I found.

People had left thousands of comments on the photo, many of them ripping Beyonce apart.

One said, “Her hair is a mess because it all broke from all the coloring and weaves she does. Her performance at the awards was awful she really looked like a real pig... Come on stop letting this little cow think she is a goddess because she isn’t.. She had so much theatrical makeup on that it wasn’t funny. This girl is a real mess without any makeup.”

That comment came from a grown woman.

And I know, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that’s more than an opinion. That’s called bullying.

How many young girls do you think saw that photo and the mean comments that accompanied it?

How many immediately felt bad about themselves? I almost felt bad about myself reading it. I mean, if women are saying this about Beyonce, what are they saying about me?

It’s not OK for us to be treating other women this way when so many young girls are following our example.

So the next time you find yourself judging another woman like people judged Beyonce, make it right by telling a young girl or young woman how much you value her.

Don’t have any young girls in your life? You can still help. Try leaving an encouraging note on the dressing room mirror at a local store. Tell the girl judging herself in the mirror that she is beautiful.

You never know. You might just change a life.

And in case you don’t hear it anywhere else, all you girls out there, I have a message for you.

You ARE amazing, and you ARE beautiful, and even if I haven’t met you, I value you for the light you bring to this world. Don’t let anyone blow that light out.

— Lindsey Ziliak

[friday] editor/ learning to love myself