A snapshot from the teen camera lens: 48 hours of blogging

dove_logo_bird.gifThree-quarters of girls age 8-12 would like to change something about their bodies, and by 16 more than one-quarter already want plastic surgery? Egad.

I decided to track the Dove self-esteem forum to review the most recent 48 hours of ‘teenspeak’ and see how much these stats are ‘media spin’ or over-reporting. Not many, I’m afraid. Check it out…

Dialogue has now surged to 10,324 replies on 688 pages & counting. Some comments are quite poignant, others downright disturbing.

This 5-minute U.K. youtube video-newsreel sums up all of this ‘appearance angst’ revealing media’s impact on girls. (it incorporates teen magazines, Oprah footage, celeb idolization & more)

My favorite blog post was by 14-year old “Evie,” a self-described ‘chronically shy and plain’ teen. (Do 14-year olds use really use words like “euphemistically?” wow. Evie, could you intern for Shaping Youth?)

If you’re out there in the cybersphere, you need to thank your English teacher, as it’s a rarity to find such erudite prose from adults on a blog, much less teens on a forum.

Here’s are Evie’s words, along with a handful of other girls to get a view from the youth dialogue that STILL seems to be circulating all over the globe.

From the Dove Self Esteem Forum posted by “Evie,” age 14:

“My name is Evie. I am fourteen years old and have soft brown hair, grey eyes and a euphemistically “curvy” figure. I am chronically shy and feel plain besides a lot of people, and until recently sought to be invisible. I hated how I looked and once looked in the mirror and burst into tears.

In the past year, I have made attempts to come out of my shell and have never felt happier or more fulfilled. The shyness still remains: it always surprises me how little significance is attached to such a word, how it seems such a mild trait – it can be all-consuming and corrode everything about you that makes you you, engulfs you so thickly that you are disconnected from the rest of the world, as if trapped in a fog. However, I am privileged enough to have a wonderful family and love my increasing confidence and the freedom that it grants me to be me.

The Dove ad campaign has the potential to transform the public’s attitude to beauty in all the best possible ways, and the women in your ads are beautiful and unique. In a world that is growing cynical and prejudiced, these ads remain a beacon of sincerity and positivity to so many.”

From the Dove Self Esteem Forum posted by “Karen,” age 18:

“For as long as I can remember I have been made fun if. I was never good enough for people and have always had a small number of friends. It seems as if there is always something new that’s wrong with me and it seems like I am in an endless struggle to make myself appear better. Recently I heard about the Dove campaign for real beauty and was touched that a corporation would care so much. I am just recently turned 18 and am so glad that the nightmare of high school is almost over for me. I call it a nightmare because it has always been one embarrasing thing after another. Recently I heard a teacher of mine state that there is no such thing as an ugly girl. What an impact such a simple statement can make. I think that dove is making that statement every day. I hope that it continues to make an impact and that girls everywhere can be made to feel more beautful. As girls, young women, and adult women, we deserve it.”

From the Dove Self Esteem Forum posted by “Karisa,” age ?

“In High School they are HORRIBLE. this girl gets called all these names and so now she is mean to everyone but she thinks that losing all her weight she will be accepted when she really needs to change the inside because thats most important. im heavy but since im nice to everyone i don’t get AS teased as her but it is really sad what the image of beauty is because most of us don’t look like a super model and we are the majority so why are they saying the LOOK is this and that we ARE beatiful and we are the ones who become Doctors,lawyers,singers and the first female president.”

And the most disturbing one of all, posted by “Sarah” age 18:

“Well you see, my life has been horrible
when i turned 15 i noticed how fat i was
i was 147.59 lbs.
OMG
so i started to starve myself
i went down to 115 STILL TOO FAT
so i contined to starve myself
NOW I AM STILL SO HUGE
i am like 96 lbs and currrently I am 18 years of age
all i see is fat
my face is really fat too
but when i put on makeup its all better
so!
i love this video!”

This last posting on the forum really makes me wonder from an advocacy standpoint how Dove is handling posts like this…

Obviously they moderate the site, so it concerns me deeply that this girl clearly needs professional help. I need to reach the corporate PR bigwigs at Dove and find out their policy. Stay tuned…

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