November 2010

GSRI Quarterly
Back to School = Back to the Mirror
Issue No. 10

Girl Scouts of the USA Addresses the
"Girl Image Crisis"

Girl Image Crisis

It's back to school season and school hallways are known to be "fashion runways" for many girls who want nothing more than to fit in. We know from research conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), summarized in The New Normal: What Girls Say about Healthy Living (2006), that when girls look in the mirror they want to just "look normal" and appear just like their friends. At the same time, it has become increasingly difficult for girls to sift through the many conflicting messages they receive about their body image, health, size and self-esteem – causing a "girl image crisis" as reported in a recent GSRI survey on body image and the fashion industry: Beauty Redefined: Girls and Body Image (2010).

This is a teachable moment – it's a great time to talk with girls about how they think and feel about their bodies, whether the models and the celebrities are worth mimicking and what they need to stay healthy and strong.

That's why the Girl Scouts of the USA has taken this issue head on and has addressed it with a multipronged approach that such a complex problem demands—through the integration of large scale research, program and policy efforts. This newsletter will elevate the voices of girls into the debate and explore what girls are saying about body image and what healthy living means to them.

Sincerely,
Michael Conn, Ph.D., Vice President, Research,
Girl Scout Research Institute, Girl Scouts of the USA

Body Image, Health and Media

Body Image, Health and Media

Over the last three decades, according to the CDC, obesity rates in America have tripled in children between the ages of 6 to 11 and adolescents age 12 to 19. Today, nearly one in three children is overweight or obese. Further complicating the issue, girls today are bombarded with images in media and fashion promoting ultra thinness as an ideal that have a negative influence on body image and are linked to eating disorders among other unhealthy habits.

The Girl Scout Research Institute's latest survey, Beauty Redefined: Girls and Body Image (2010), demonstrates that many girls consider the body image sold by the fashion industry unrealistic, creating an unattainable model of beauty:

  • Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed say the fashion industry (89 percent) and/or the media (88 percent) place a lot of pressure on them to be thin.
  • However, despite the criticism of this industry, 3 out of 4 girls say that fashion is "really important" to them. Girls still feel intense pressure from the media to have an 'ideal' body type. When they do not measure up to these unrealistic beauty standards, their self-esteem, body image, and physical health can be significantly damaged.

Girls still feel intense pressure from the media to have an 'ideal' body type. When they do not measure up to these unrealistic beauty standards, their self-esteem, body image, and physical health can be significantly damaged.

The Changing Face
of Fashion

The Changing Face of Fashion

The fashion industry remains a powerful influence on girls and the way they view themselves and their bodies. Teenage girls take cues about how they should look from models they see in fashion magazines and on TV and it is something that they struggle to reconcile with when they look at themselves in the mirror.

Girl Scouts of the USA enlisted four models from Wilhelmina Curve to celebrate The Changing Face of Fashion - a set of videos exploring self esteem and personal empowerment from the perspectives of plus size models Lizzie Miller, Anansa Sims, Leona Palmer and Julie Henderson. The videos were directed and shot by lifestyle and beauty photographer Cathrine Westergaard. As a part of a new initiative at Girl Scouts to address the image of girls in the media, The Changing Face of Fashion is supported by findings from The GSRI's Beauty Redefined survey:

  • Forty-seven percent of girls say fashion magazines give them a body image to strive for and a full 48% wish they were as skinny as the models in fashion magazines.
  • The health implications of the preoccupation with unrealistic images are serious. Nearly one in three girls say they have starved themselves or refused to eat in an effort to lose weight.
  • In addition, more than a third (37 percent) say they know someone their age who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

Check out these blog posts about the Changing Face of Fashion below:

 

Latina Times
Seventeen Magazine
New York Daily News
Stylist
Mom Logic
Tonic

It's Your Story—Tell It!

Journey 3 Series

Girl Scouts of the USA and the Dove Self-Esteem Fund have partnered to offer self-esteem programming for girls nationwide. It's Your Story—Tell It! will debut in December 2010 and will focus on diversity, self expression, media literacy and holistic health as a way for girls to build their skills and talents rather than focusing all their energy on their appearance. Watch for more to come on this exciting program!

Policy Solutions: The Healthy Media Act for Youth

Journey 3 Series

The GSUSA Public Policy and Advocacy Office has worked closely with Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925). The bill is a critical step towards ensuring girls, and all youth, benefit from seeing healthier and more positive messages about girls and women. This bipartisan legislation supports media literacy programs, promotes research on the effects of media images, and encourages the adoption of voluntary guidelines to promote healthier media images for young people. Join the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network to encourage your Members of Congress to be a voice for girls and support H.R. 4925! Check out these blog posts and podcast about supporting the Healthy Media for Youth Act:

 

Shaping Youth
Women and Hollywood
Rosalind Wiseman
PBS Podcast To The Contrary

Girl Scouts Host Healthy Media for Youth Summit in Washington, DC

Healthy Media

Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis and other leaders from the entertainment, policy, business and youth-serving communities joined forces to promote healthy media images of girls and women at the Healthy Media for Youth Summit on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. The Healthy Media for Youth Summit grew out of research findings from the Girl Scout Research Institute's (GSRI) survey regarding body image, Beauty Redefined. The summit was a partnership of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and The Creative Coalition (TCC), where attendees considered and identified ways to promote media messages that inspire, empower and engage youth.

A new public service announcement was unveiled at the Summit urging youth to "watch what you watch" and have a greater understanding about the images in media. The PSA directs viewers to a new Web page (girlscouts.org/watchwhatyouwatch), which offers media literacy information and resources. We encourage you to watch it, post it, and share it with those you care about. As a follow up to the Healthy Media for Youth Summit, a Blue Ribbon Commission is being formed to further explore the issue of healthy media for youth and to offer specific recommendations to promote them. Plans are also underway to convene "community conversations" with several Girl Scout councils around the country to continue the discussions, partnerships and work started at the Summit. For information on this project, contact the Girl Scouts of the USA Public Policy and Advocacy Office at advocacy@girlscouts.org.


About GSRI

The Girl Scout Research Institute, formed in 2000, is a vital extension of Girl Scouts of the USA.

The GSRI conducts original research, evaluation, and outcomes measurement studies, releases critical facts and findings, and provides resources essential for the advancement of the well-being and safety of girls living in today's world.

The GSRI also informs public policy and advocacy for Girl Scouting.

P.S. -- Did you know that the GSRI celebrated its 10th Anniversary on September 13, 2010? We'd like you to help celebrate the good news by forwarding this e-mail to at least 10 of your friends and colleagues who might be interested in subscribing (and they'll tell 10 friends, who will tell 10 friends…). Please have them click here to subscribe.

About Girl Scouting

Girl Scouts of the USA
Mission Statement:

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

Visit: www.girlscouts.org

Collaborations Supporting Girls' Health and Positive Body Image

iti_pic1In April 2010 staff from the Girl Scout Research Institute was invited to participate in a pioneering effort led by the White House's Task Force on Childhood Obesity that explored how this issue can be addressed through four key areas: healthier food in schools, affordable food in neighborhoods, physical activity, and tools for parents. See the Task Force report from this meeting at letsmove.gov.

iti_pic1In June 2010 the National Collaboration for Youth partnered with the Girl Scout Research Institute to conduct two webinars with hundreds of participants from the youth development field about the future of body image, health and the media. See the link below for the powerpoint presentation from the webinar and the audio recording. collab4youth.org

Body ImageIn June 2010, staff from the Girl Scout Research Institute participated in a panel sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association and the PBS series "This Emotional Life" to address the challenges girls face during summer swimsuit season around body image. High profile panelist included the model Emme and Daphne Oz, daughter of Dr. Oz and author of The Dorm Room Diet. See below for recoding of the webinar. youtube.com

iti_pic1In July 2010 the Florida Psychiatric Society Podcast invited Girl Scout Research Institute staff to conduct a podcast interview on girls, the media and self-Esteem.

Advocacy Network
Advocacy Network

Girl Scout Advocacy Network

Sign Up Today!

Girl Advocacy Day

In an effort to inform Members of Congress about the impact the Healthy Media for Youth Act has on youth and girls, GSUSA teamed up with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capitol to participate in Girl Advocacy Day. Eighteen high school Girl Scouts met with Congressional staff from over forty offices to encourage support for a new bill: The Healthy Media for Youth Act. The girls discussed their personal experiences with media images and highlighted recent findings on girls and body image from the Girl Scout Research Institute.

Earlier this summer, adult Girl Scout volunteers from the Washington D.C. area joined the new Nation’s Capital Advocacy Corps and visited with 50 Congressional offices to increase support for the bill too. Girl Scouts is encouraging others to be the voice for girls on this important issue by sending a message to your Member of Congress by joining the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network at http://advocate.girlscouts.org.

Contact Us

Girl Scout Research Institute
www.girlscouts.org/research
GSResearch@girlscouts.org
212-852-6551

Public Policy and Advocacy
Washington, D.C., Office
Advocacy@girlscouts.org
202-659-3780

Girl Scouts of the USA
www.girlscouts.org
800-GSUSA-4-U

Media Inquiries
212-852-5074

The GSRI Beauty Redefined Study (2010) found that:

Eighty-one percent of girls would rather see "real" or "natural" photos of models than touched-up.

Seventy-five percent would be more likely to buy clothes they see on "real –size models" than on super-skinny ones.

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