Laura Bates, founder of the London-based Everyday Sexism Project, a website where users can post daily experiences of sexism, shares a post from a 15-year-old girl in an article she wrote for The Independent.
Bates writes that the teen feels pressure to be “sexy” and “hot” though she understands herself to be smart, funny and kind. Yet those qualities are not valued as much as physical beauty, the teen believes. Bates writes,“Her words reveal a keen perception of double standards in a society that tells young women they can have all the same dreams men can, study at any academic institution they wish and aim for any career path they choose, whilst simultaneously inundating them with an onslaught of daily messages that as women they will be judged almost exclusively on the basis of their looks, regardless of success.”
Bates also includes comments from adult women who feel the same pressure.
There is no question that girls and women of all ages receive these toxic messages.
From “Am I ugly?” contests on Youtube.com to converting Disney characters to anorexic super models women and girls are continually subjected to ridicule and judgments about their physical appearance. These slights are not just from the media either.
A subtle offhand comment or joke from a parent or spouse about recent weight gain can intensify the message that being attractive is highly valued, more so than intellect. And this attitude exists in business as well. According to studies, good looking people are more financially successful than less attractive individuals.
Armed with this information, how can we combat these dangerous attitudes in our congregations? Does Women of the ELCA provide women and girls a safe place from those pressures or does it add to them?
Do you feel like the pressure to be attractive or thin exists in your congregation?
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programs and editor of Cafe.