It’s the 21st century. How much longer will this take?

 It’s the 21st century. How much longer will this take? By Deborah Hearn Smith, CEO,  Girl Scouts of Central Indiana

As I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, we were fighting for change. In my lifetime, I have witnessed improvements in racial stereotypes, and have seen women break through the glass ceiling. What I’m appalled by is our lack of improvement in the issue of objectification of women and girls.

We are more than our bodies. Our bodies are the shells that carry our brains, our hopes and dreams, our passions and fears.

Like many women, it took me until my 40s to feel completely comfortable in my own skin. I think by then your priorities shift and you figure out that your looks are pretty far down your list of worries. But our girls deserve better; shouldn’t they feel just as good in their teenage skin as they do in their 40s?

According to a 2006 study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls believe that their health isn’t as important as looking “normal” and fitting in. Mothers have a strong influence on their daughters’ health habits. “A mother’s weight, body image, attitude, and health habits are strong indicators of whether or not her daughter is overweight, satisfied with her body, physically active, and looks  to her mother for advice on healthy living.”

This is where we can make a change. I challenge you to do three things.

1) Talk with your daughters and granddaughters about healthy body images. The media is not going to do this for us. Discuss health in a holistic way–spiritual, physical, and mental.

2) Make the pledge to get healthy for yourself and for the girls in your life who are watching you. It’s not about the way you look, it’s about your health and wellness. Get active; go for regular health exams.

3) Attend at least one Spirit & Place Festival workshop. If you’d like more information about negative body images and how we can all work together to make a change, the Girl Scouts have partnered with Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis, the Marion County Health Department, and NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball for a panel discussion. We’ll be at the Madame Walker Theater on Sunday, November 6. Pre-registration is required.

The time is now. Our girls and women should consider their health to be so much more important than their bodies. Like the early 60s, this issue is simmering. What will you do to help bring this issue to a boil?

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