Shaping Youth Interviews ATB Director Darryl Roberts

Last Friday I broke policy and posted America the Beautiful: “See it. Support it.” sight unseen!

48 hours ago I saw it; applauded it. 24 hours ago I started a ‘social media scramble’ to rally a posse of social media pals to “Tweet it, Digg it, Blog it, Friend it,” and NOW, I’m asking YOU to get your keister  into a seat and spike the ATB movie weekend open, so he can land broader distribution to raise awareness about beauty obsession’s tipping point of toxicity among kids.

More action steps and plans on how he’s doing that this weekend when I post my interview. (yes, above headline was a ‘prequel/teaser eyegrab,’ hey, I’m in media/marketing!)

This is a rebel yell shout out on his behalf to goose parents, teens, and overwhelmed media “power-shruggers” who sigh, “But what can we DO?”

Be there. In ANY of the opening cities, including San Diego and Las Vegas tonight! (slate here) TONIGHT in San Francisco, it’s opening at the Sundance Kabuki, and Darryl will take Q&A following the 7:20pm show only. (Need a pal to go? People are posting on CraigsList, talk about a blind date that will open your eyes!) Seeing the film ANY time this weekend Aug. 29-31 would be extra helpful in opening markets, even if it’s staying longer so see it with OR without your teens.

Alas, it IS currently rated “R” (based on one word uttered for emphasis on screen by Eve Ensler) but it’ll edit to PG-13 to go ‘en masse’ to schools if we can all support it NOW and lift the veil on the ‘ugly truth about beauty.’

If you’re concerned about bringing the kids, leave a note on Shaping Youth and I’ll get back to you on specifics…it’s PG-13 in Canada, and frankly, should’ve been here based on the minimal ‘language’ so I’ll be anxious for awareness to build with more reach.

The R vs. PG-13 conundrum is similar to my ‘Missed Opportunity for Mass Messaging’ post about Fast Food Nation, although that was a MUCH darker film than what we’re looking at here!

This could almost be called ‘documentary light’ for the entertaining and enlightening pop culture spin Darryl gave to this important issue to make it palatable for the masses…

I’d say to ‘check out the reviews’ on Common Sense Media but I don’t even SEE it there yet, so I’ll go with their kids’ media literacy mantra which proclaims,

“We can’t always cover their eyes, but we can teach them to see.”

Stay tuned for my interview with Darryl this weekend, meanwhile tune into our allied channels where the ATB topic is featured prominently:

New Moon Girl Media: When Do You Feel Beautiful?

Reign of the Girl Child: American the Beautiful’s Beautiful NYC Opening

Childhood Matters Podcast: Helping Preteens Develop A Healthy Body Image (Nurse Rona Renner speaks with two Bay Area medical experts 6-29-08

And to tide you over until I post the interview, Shaping Youth’s body image expert Dr. Robyn Silverman gives a snapshot of stats from the newly released YWCA report, Beauty at Any Cost, supported in partnership with the making of the ATB film…

Here’s Dr. Robyn’s newest post on the price of beauty, and an excellent related one called, “No Wonder Girls Are Confused” about Jennifer Love Hewitt’s multi-messaging on body image and salient talking tips for dialog with kids! Take it away Robyn:

How Much Do You Pay For Beauty? Flushing Health Wealth and Happiness Down the Toilet

by Shaping Youth Correspondent Dr. Robyn Silverman

Friday Musings…I believe it was 7th grade. One of my closest friends cried that she needed a nose job. “It’s way too big!” I thought she looked great. What did I know?

When I tried to persuade her not to do it, I’ll never forget what she told me; “Every time I look in the mirror, all I see is this nose. Beautiful people have little noses. Have you ever seen a model with a nose like mine?” She wound up getting one of those “model noses” for about $4000 from bridge to tip.

That year was my real initiation into the world of “beauty.” Or shall I say, “manufacturing beauty” from natural beauty. Make-up, hair, shaving (thank goodness we didn’t know much about waxing during the preteen years), tanning, “good jeans” and plastic surgery–it became apparent that play clothes and a little dirt on my face was no longer going to cut it. Admittedly, I had been a bit of a tomboy–having 2 older brothers who I wanted desperately to be like (I was convinced that I only wanted to wear pants— no skirts!)–and a tomboy wasn’t the best thing to be once you entered middle school.

We got a bit ridiculous. We’d put on our mother’s make-up and dress up like Madonna (remember those mesh ti-shirts and the lace bow in the hair?). We actually thought we looked good.

We’d spend hours looking in the mirror counting pimples, pinching non-existent blubber and investigating “flaws” to complain about. We bought trinkets and bobbles and fluorescent purses (mine was pink). And we prayed that we’d grow up sooner so we drive a car, go where we wanted, and spend our own money.

I remember saving up to buy at least 50 of those rubber bracelets (my favorite was the pink “gummy one)–yes, I realize they were simply car parts and vacuum cleaner components now–but we all wanted them. I even remember my friends and myself painting ourselves with baby oil and literally lying down on tin foil to get that “natural glow.”

Years later I realized that I could use the same procedure to bronze shrimp.

As bad as we were, it’s got to be worse these days. How much do girls and women spend on all those products that promise “more beauty than we could ever be born with?”

It turns out, probably more than we care to know. The YWCA released a report on the Consequences of America’s Beauty Obsession on Women and Girls to illustrate that we’ve been buying into a “Beauty at Any Costphilosophy.

Wealth pays a price:

  1. 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedure in 2007
  2. A survey of young people showed that 69% of responders, 18 or older, are in favor of cosmetic surgery.
  3. ¼ of cosmetic surgery was performed on women of color, up 13% from the previous year.
  4. Workers with “below average looks tended to earn about 9% less money than those with “above average” looks

Beauty or brains?

One full year of college tuition and fees at a public instate college is $6,185. Five years of beauty products costs $6,423

Health pays a price:

  1. 67% of women (excluding those with bulimia or anorexia) are trying to lose weight
  2. 53% of dieters are already at a healthy weight
  3. 37% of women are concerned about what they’re eating
  4. 13% of women actually smoke in order to lose weight!
  5. Smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer deaths in the US
  6. 40% of newly-diagnosed cases of eating disorders are in girls only 15-19 years old. Symptoms can start as early as kindergarten.
  7. Over ½ of teen girls engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors such as fasting, skipping meals, smoking, and taking laxative

What’s the real cost of all that stuff we put on our faces?

Several ingredients found in US cosmetics have been linked to damage to the liver and reproductive system in animals. Europe has banned these ingredients. The US has not. In fact, in Europe, substances that can be used currently in the US have been called “carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction and should be prohibited from use in cosmetic products.” —European Union Cosmetics Directive, 2003

Happiness Pays a Price

  1. Studies have found that girls who watch TV commercials with underweight models in them lost self confidence and were dissatisfied with their own bodies.
  2. Sexualization of girls have been linked with eating disorders, low self esteem, and depression.
  3. Aggressive bullying between girls has been on the rise since the 1990s.
  4. Relational aggression, a form of bullying, is related to their roles in culture. Women want to be attractive and men want to have attractive partners.

In a study of women, 80% of interviewed participants said that they competed with other women over physical appearance. These women are driven by an unhealthy belief that winning the looks competition will somehow gain them a husband, “the” career, or the self they desire.

So folks, should we dare to think about it? How much are we shelling out for beauty? How much are our girls–many of whom are going back to school–going to spend on “the right” clothes, make-up, hair, weight loss and skin to ensure that they look “their best?” And how is it that we’ve all been fooled to believe that “our best” means slathering ourselves with manufactured, unnatural products that are made in a factory?

So much for telling children and teens to just be themselves.

Dr. Robyn Silverman (full bio here) is an ongoing Shaping Youth contributor and leading Child and Adolescent Development Specialist with a focus on character education and body/self esteem development during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

Related Posts on Shaping Youth: Kids & Body Image

America the Beautiful Documentary: See It. Support It.

Mamma’s Got A Brand New Bag…er…Face. Nose. Belly.

Buffed Boy, Body Image, and Teen Scene ‘Hottie’ Factor

Facelifts for Kiddie Characters: Rebranding 80s Icons? (Part One)

Manga Makeovers & Other Body Image Cartoon Capers (Part Two)

Beyonce’s Dereon Divas: PopTarts and Sesame StreetWalkers

Body Blitz: APA Study Shows Harm of Early Sexualization

YWCA Beauty At Any Cost Report (9pp pdf)



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