Article first published as Teen Girls Eventually Become Women on Technorati.
Pick up any magazine dealing with popular culture and no doubt there will be a story judging the weight of a young female celebrity. She is either starving herself, or has gained a few pounds which now classifies her as fat. While experts go on talk shows and profess that women need to accept and love themselves, the media increases the pressure to be perfect. If you look back at history, this is somewhat of a recent phenomenon. Stars of the past did not have to be a size 2 to make it in their industry. Most resembled the true shape of a woman particularly as they aged. You can’t take these girls, put them on television or the silver screen when they are under the age of 18, and then expect them to look the same forever.
Turn on the Disney Channel or Teen Nick and you will see a number of shows starring a very attractive teenage girl. They are tall, thin, and are the type that can wear anything and still look good. The cast members that are heavier, wear glasses, and don’t have long flowing tresses are often the “characters” on the show. They are goofy, funny, clumsy, or nerdy. The beautiful teen girl is the main star, and she is a media darling. Quite honestly, I can’t tell one from the other. The same is true of the bevy of young movie starlets.
Flash forward about 5 years when these girls reach the age of 18 to 20 years old. They have changed. They are grown up and don’t have that lanky size 2 body anymore. She now becomes a victim of an attack by the same system that built her up. Suddenly she is not to admired for her talent, but is only noticed for what it might say on the scale. Pictures are taken of them eating or drinking. The paparazzi waits to snap a picture of them in a bathing suit. The sad part is that they are still a far cry from being overweight. They have become women, and their bodies reflect the change.
Would Marilyn Monroe be a star today? How about Sophia Loren or Elizabeth Taylor? Would their womanly figures have kept them off the screen? Would Christie Brinkley have become one of the most famous supermodels of all time, or would her athletic body kept her off those covers? Would we have ever heard the magnificent voices of Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Sutherland, Kate Smith, or Aretha Franklin? When did thin become a requirement for talent, and why does it seem to apply only to women?
Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, and Gabourey Sidibe are stars that come to mind stating they are not going to obsess about their weight. They continue to work, and provide an example to other young women that you are more than your dress size. That society should not determine your value, and that everyone, regardless of their shape or size, has much to contribute to this world. This is a lesson we must teach our girls. It the responsibility of all women to lead the way.