Modern body image issues for young girls

A high school memory of mine

I was in high school (eleventh grade, I think) when I first heard a female classmate of mine tell a friend of hers that she had recently shaved her forearms. I was shocked. “Why would you bother doing that?” I asked her.

Previous to that incident I’d been aware that most women shave their legs and armpits, but shaving one’s forearms was entirely new to me; and I was a teenager then.

Today: Even in second grade

You may have already guessed where this blog post is going.

My daughter is a seven-year-old in second grade in 2022; and she has identified a best friend this year at school. The two of them are so cute – they’re the only children who bring books to school; and they like to sit next to one another and read their respective books together during recess. I’m really happy that they’ve become such close friends.

Anyway, my daughter’s best friend was at our home for a playdate a couple of weeks ago, and she mentioned to us that two of the boys in their class had mocked her for having hair on her forearms. I was stunned and disgusted. Seriously? In second grade?

Putting aside that this little girl looks perfectly lovely, healthy, and normal… what the hell?

The modern Internet era

I have read articles about how young women and girls in the modern day are prone to depression and even suicide associated with how photographs of them are received online by others. We’ve all seen young women taking selfies with their cell phones, posting them to various social media sites, and sending them to friends.

This is something that I’ve been aware of for some time now, and as the father of a daughter, it’s something I’m thinking about – it’s something my wife and I have spoken about, and it’s something we’re planning on speaking to our child about.

My take-away

I know I have a tendency towards naïveté; but even despite my relative awareness of this social issue, I am reeling from the realization that these utterly absurd standards of female beauty are now being applied to girls who are as young as seven-years-old. It’s sickening and unhealthy.

Of course, it’s not only the Internet – it’s also social norms, family values, local culture, global culture, etc., etc….

But, regardless, this has really set alarm bells off in my mind, and I am more wary now than ever of giving my daughter a cell phone (we will, of course, eventually)… and am personally taking this matter with great seriousness. It’s important to me that my child not get swallowed up by this noxious, unhealthy beauty culture, which seems to be affecting even the very youngest among us.

72 thoughts on “Modern body image issues for young girls”

  1. You are right to be concerned, David! It’s not just girls, my boys were held to certain standards too. I wish all parents would just teach their little bullies to let other children be themselves!

  2. A thought-provoking post, Ben.
    I agree with you, “It’s important to me that my child not get swallowed up by this noxious, unhealthy beauty culture, which seems to be affecting even the very youngest among us.”
    I should not be shocked to read, “These utterly absurd standards of female beauty are now being applied to girls who are as young as seven-years-old.” Because the practice of setting rediculous standards of female beauty is age-old. However, reading it made me quite horrified.
    I remember growing up and even now, having “fair skin” was the ultimate mark of beauty. No matter how gorgeous the features of a girl were, if she had wheat or dark skin, she was considered not beautiful. Makes me shudder to remember the lengths some of the young girls went to make their skin light and the consequences of their actions.
    I am grateful to my parents for making my two sisters and me feel unconditionally and equally loved. Although, we were mindful of our shortcomings and how we saw ourselves, knowing that our Dad told us constantly we were his princesses made us confident.
    Have a great weekend.

    1. ❤ Chaya ❤ ~ thank you! Regarding 'fair skin', this particular little girl happens to be faired skin – but she also happens to have a small amount of arm hair (she's not hairy by any stretch of the imagination), which was enough for those boys to lay into her 😦

      BTW, please feel free to call me ‘David’ ~ that is my first name.

      The word ‘ben’ in Hebrew simply means ‘son of’; and my father’s name was ‘Alexander’ ~ I created this blog in his memory, you see.

      I know that ‘Ben’ is a popular name in English ~ I’m sorry for the confusion!

      Much love,

      1. Thank you for explaining the meaning of ben.
        I learned something new and beautiful. Love that your blog in your father’s memory.
        Warm regards and love, David.

  3. I have become aware of this issue with my youngest granddaughter a while ago. I don’t know how her mother is dealing with it, but my son gets away with simply calling her gorgeous (which she is). I can observe a rising level of self-confidence.

    1. I’ve long made sure to pay my daughter compliments on all sorts of things, but now I’ve become more careful to pay her compliments about her appearance in particular…

      1. Exactly. Incidentally, there is an entire industry based on removing female arm hair, and kids, unfortunately, are way too much exposed to adult advertising.
        Shabbat Shalom, David.

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