Nevada Daily Mail
One in five fourth grade girls goes on a diet.
Possibly the country's most famous example of womanhood is a doll named Barbie, whose dimensions may sometimes give the wrong impression to young girls forming their own ideas of what's beautiful in terms of shape and size, according to local student Marissa Dreyer.
"Body image is important. It needs to be talked about," she said.
Marissa once wanted to look like Barbie.
Now she proudly proclaims, "Barbie wants to look like me." The words were emblazoned on a T-shirt she wore for a presentation to sixth grade girls in Nevada Middle School's Girl emPOWER-ment meeting on Tuesday. Marissa's message wasn't one of condemning playing with Barbie dolls; many of the students, in fact, indicated that they own or have owned such a doll. Marissa's message was one of inspiring the girls to help build a positive self image for themselves that has little to do with images that may surround them.
Marissa's presentation was part of her Students Taking Action with Recognition project as a member of the Nevada chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
There are countless other images of women in the media and other areas that touch young girls' lives that give similar impressions that just one body type is beautiful.
"But that's not the way real women look," Marissa said. "You fall into the pressure; you want to be that sparkly girl."
Marissa pointed out that real women are of many different shapes and sizes; and what's important is that girls maintain a positive lifestyle and guard their own self-esteem.
"What you see and hear doesn't define you. It's what you do with it that does," she said.
Marissa offered several strategies women of any age can use to help bolster self-image.
Find support. Support can come in the form of a family member, friend, teacher or other mentor.
Find something enjoyable on which to focus. Some enjoy sports, or walking, biking or hiking, she said. Others enjoy other activities, like clubs and organizations.
Take time to relax. Marissa said listening to music, reading, journaling or just spending some time alone can help.
"Talk to yourself in a positive way," she said, advising the sixth-graders to compliment themselves on positives, rather than focusing on negatives, which often are smaller and less frequent happenings than the positive moments.
It's important, too, Marissa told the students, to reinforce those positive thoughts with positive behaviors, like eating right and being physically active.
"If you live happier and healthier, you'll be happier and healthier," she said.
"Love yourself enough to know that Barbie wants to be you."