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news: girls want modesty in advertising

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Title/Topic: Girls Want Modesty in Advertising
Posted On: 6/6/2009
June 6 2009, (Mille Lacs County Times) – The “Wall of Shame” at Pearl Crisis Center depicts the relentless coverage in magazines, television and movies to show skinny, “perfect” bodies of young women.

And the roughly dozen young girls ages 10 to 13 in Pearl’s “Just As I Am” group are the ones who put the Wall of Shame pictures together.

Tired of seeing photographs of airbrushed, too-thin models in teen magazines, the girls have been meeting twice a month after school to talk about self-esteem, to scrapbook, do yoga and eat cake!

The girls want to see more modesty in clothing rather than baring it all.

But rather than just talk about it, they decided to try to make a difference by doing something about it.

The girls recently sent a letter to Jordache Enterprises, a clothing company, which often shows more skin than clothing in its advertisements.

From its website, Jordache touts, “In business for more than 30 years, Jordache has become a powerful name in the world of fashion and beyond. As the originator of the designer denim phenomenon in the late 1970s, the Jordache brand quickly became synonymous with sexiness.”

The Just As I Am girls each wrote their own thoughts to Jordache on the advertisements used to sell Jordache clothing.

Alissa, age 12, wrote, “I realize that people can go to extreme lengths to make money, but is there any other ways to do that besides showing off girls’ bodies in a sexual way? A lot of girls around my age can be affected by it in a negative way, and their self esteem can be lowered a lot. I wish you wouldn’t advertise like this.”

Twelve-year-old Hope wrote, “I think that your advertisements are really inappropriate because it shows off a girl’s body. In this group, we try to make ourselves feel better and strong and not think of ourselves as fat. Your advertisements are not helping us. I think you need to think of other ways to make more money by advertising and please cover your models private areas that we don’t really care about.”

As one girl in the group said, “It makes us feel like we don’t have perfect bodies or we need to be a perfect size to be attractive.”

The group of Just As I Am girls are a variety of shapes and sizes and have different personalities, but they are all strong and they are all beautiful.

And they are trying to help other girls understand that by letting their fellow classmates and friends know that no one has a “perfect” body. Shifting the focus from the body to what’s inside.

“I don’t think our bodies matter, it should be our personalities,” one stated.

“You need to take care of yourself and stay healthy,” another teen added. “As long as you’re healthy, it shouldn’t matter how you look.”

The girls are trying to maintain a positive attitude about themselves and help others keep a good attitude too.

“Don’t let how other people judge you affect how you look at yourself,” one of the girls commented.

That’s a positive outlook, but a difficult one for many teens to follow through on.

According to National Eating Disorders, as many as 10 million females and one million males in the U.S. are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Forty percent of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years of age.

Of the top 10 teen magazines on the web, only one showed teen girls not looking “sexy” or airbrushed. They were in basketball uniforms. The rest had pictures of airbrushed entertainers and models.

The girls want to continue Just As I Am, but funding for the program has run out and another grant will be applied for so a new group of girls can participate.

“Can we help?” the girls asked their coordinator Natalie Hagle. “Can we visit? We don’t want it to end!”

The girls will be able to help the next group of teens, just as they’ve already been doing by making the decision to speak out and be proud of who they are.

By Dawn Slade

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