Think of the pressure women experience to be beautiful and the lengths women will go too to obtain it—including plastic surgery, dangerous diets, skin treatments and altering their bodies. The pressure couldn’t have been more true or palpable at the L.A. high school Jessica visited. What did the high school girls reveal? It’s no surprise that the main theme kept circling back to feeling “fat.” The self esteem of these girls had been severely damaged by the desire and need to be thin. It reconfirmed how often we measure our self worth in pounds not deeds. We live in a world where 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner, 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. Who wouldn’t feel the pressure to be thin when the image of the body “ideal” they are growing up with is so twisted?
We’ve seen a glimmer of hope that change might be on the horizon. Glamour and Elle Magazine both ran articles featuring “real” women. These two popular women’s magazines are some of the first to take a step forward. The articles seem to reflect that media is finally catching on to what women may be wanting—to see more women with curves and diverse bodies shapes, not just the thin one. Could we see a change coming? Hopefully! Jessica has been a forerunner in this initiative. She recently received a lot of press for her cover on Marie Claire, which she did without makeup or photo-shopping.
On the show, Ken (Jessica’s friend and hairdresser) asked the high school girls to stand up and announce that they were beautiful. It was clearly uncomfortable and foreign to the girls to speak in such a positive and empowering way about themselves. What can you do if you know a high school girl who feels this way about herself? Operation Beautiful is new initiative to help women turn around this self hate and teach them how to put an end to damaging “fat talk.” In its place, Operation Beautiful hopes to see women tell themselves and others that they are beautiful.
Jessica describes her initiative as a way to “help youth believe in themselves and use their personal strength to change the world.” It is a celebration of “individualism and positivity.” She is planning self-esteem conferences that empower women to be confident about their appearance. Helping women achieve this is going to be a challenge but is obviously well needed. There is so much in the world that tells girls and boys just the opposite about themselves.
So, what is beauty? It is clear that elements of beauty are unique to each culture. However, the overarching theme can be best summed up like this: No matter where you live, beauty means being the best version of yourself—both inside and out.
Thank you to Jessica and the VH1 crew for helping to see beauty from a new different perspective.