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Entries in Self Image (3)

Thursday
Mar072013

Students at Texas High School Plan ‘No Makeup’ Day

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Teens at Plano Senior High School in Texas are trying to redefine beauty, rallying students to wear no makeup Friday -- an initiative they’re calling “Operation Beautiful.”

“I just really began to see how I don’t need makeup to be beautiful,” said Madeline Milby, 17, vice president of the student congress and a senior at PSHS, which is in the Dallas suburbs. “There’s so much more to me. It’s your personality, your passion and what’s inside your heart.”

Plano Senior High is a school with 2,500 11th and 12th graders. Milby said she would spend up to an hour and fifteen minutes getting ready for school, putting on makeup and styling her hair. It turned out that a majority of the girls at her school were doing the same. That jump-started the idea of “no makeup day” at PSHS.

“A while back we heard of a school doing this before, and we thought it’d be a really cool idea to bring it to our school,” Milby told ABC News. “The goal for this project is to promote inner beauty and to let girls know it’s not about what’s on the outside but about what’s on the inside, and that’s what makes you beautiful.”

Last semester, Milby, along with senior class president Binna Kim and student congress president Monica Plenger, came up with the idea to get all girls at the school to have one day without makeup.

“I think there’s pressure for girls to look a certain way, to meet a standard. The standard is being pushed through media and magazines and everything,” said Milby. “I’m really hoping it’ll make the girls at school feel more comfortable and see that they’re beautiful without makeup and they don’t need to use makeup to cover up themselves.”

To get the word out and gain support for “no makeup day,” the three best friends and other classmates created a YouTube video explaining the mindset behind “Operation Beautiful.” Teachers showed the video in their classrooms at school.

“We just really want to focus on, not that makeup [is] a bad thing, we’re not trying to say that, you know, don’t wear makeup ever again,” says Kim in the video. “What we really want to do on this day is to prioritize bettering yourself on the inside rather than bettering yourself on the outside.”

In the video, girls who attend PSHS confess they spend up to an hour and a half getting ready for school while boys say they spend only five minutes.

“We challenge you this Friday, March 8, to not wear makeup and support Operation Beautiful,” say subtitles at the end of the video.

While there has mostly been a positive response from girls and boys at PSHS, they’ve heard some negative feedback. Still, Milby said she hopes that all students learn from Operation Beauty apart from their position.

“Guys are in shock. They really are starting to realize how much pressure there is on girls,” said Milby. “We’re all seniors, but we’re hoping about making it a recurring event at school.”

As one male student put it in the Youtube video by quoting teen sensation One Direction, “You don’t need makeup to cover up, because being the way that you are is enough.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb232012

Teen YouTube Videos Shed Light on Self-Esteem Issues

Naomi Gibson(NEW YORK) -- Naomi Gibson, who lives just outside Denver, always makes a point to tell her 13-year-old daughter, Faye, that she's beautiful. So when she started getting calls from media asking to interview Faye about a video she had posted, she couldn't believe her ears.

"I was floored," Gibson said.

The video was called "Am I Pretty or Ugly?" and asked anyone who watched the YouTube video to comment on her attractiveness.

Faye says that she has long been a victim of bullying. A day does not pass when someone at school does not call her ugly, she said. "I get called a lot of names, get talked about behind my back," she said.

The psyche of a teenage girl is understandably muddled. Faye said she goes to the Web to get opinions from those who don't know her.

"Deep down inside, all girls know that other people's opinions don't matter, but we still go to other people for help because we don't believe what people say," she told ABC News.

What she received were mixed reactions. Though some comments were innocuous enough, others spewed hateful messages toward the young teenager.

One read, "FAYE! Stop asking for this attention. It makes you look so pathetic and dumb."

"It hurt me to see those comments about my daughter," Gibson said.

Faye's case is not unique. Similar videos have been posted in recent months, all asking often-unknown users to comment on whether or not a teen is ugly. Some have accrued thousands of hits, with one video, posted by user sgal01, getting 3,622,844 views. Comments are mixed, with some Good Samaritans imploring the teens to know their self-worth, as more disparaging commentors hurled insults, some even taking a sexual, predatory tone.

But while posting videos like this may be a recent phenomenon, experts say that teens' desire for approval is nothing new.

Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, says that teens have always had a fervent desire to be accepted.

"This is just an extreme version of something that's very normal," Klapow said, adding, "Another piece that's normal is impulsivity. Give them a medium that is so easily accessible and so potent, you get the problem we're seeing."

Dr. Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale, agrees. "There's a part of it that's unfortunate, but there's a part of it that's natural. Technology has made it so that it's not new in principle but new in practice," he said.

Older generations may have used slambooks to share their feelings about peers but, for this technology-inundated generation, the Internet is teenagers' open forum, providing them the comfort and ease to open themselves up to the enormous and often-anonymous cyber-universe.

"The question is not, why would [teenagers] take their problems to the Web? The question is, why wouldn't you take it to the Web?" said Kazdin.

Experts say that part of the appeal of asking viewers open questions comes from the immediate reward the teens get. Rather than sitting down and having a conversation, teenagers can post something on the Internet and immediately experience the thrill associated with seeing a response, whether positive or negative.

But the negative comments can have deleterious effects.

"They have no safe place now," Kazdin said. "As long as they're electronically connected, they become vulnerable."

Gibson had already instituted rules to try and protect her daughter, requiring Faye to tell her when she posted a video so she could screen it. Initially, Faye had been using YouTube to showcase her singing and dancing talents as a way to detract from the bullying that she has been a victim of since she was 11. Now, Gibson says that the privilege may soon be revoked.

"I took away her Facebook and Twitter account because of bullying. She needs to stop putting herself out there. Now people are walking around asking her if she's pretty to her face. It's hurting her more in the long run, I think," Gibson said.

For Faye, the pain of not being accepted is inescapable.

"I feel like I could just go away and never come back…I feel like I've been standing all these years and keep getting torn down," Faye said.

Aside from the emotional damage the video has caused, Gibson has a deeper concern, worrying that the video could be fodder for predators. On several such videos, users have posted lewd and sexual comments.

She has appealed directly to YouTube to try and get these videos and comments taken down. In a statement sent to ABC News by a YouTube spokesperson, YouTube reiterated its policy on underage users:

YouTube is for people thirteen years or older only, and we provide information for teens and parents in our Safety Center on staying safe online. Our Community Guidelines prohibit videos or comments containing harassment, threats, or hate speech -- we encourage users to flag material so we can quickly review it and remove anything that breaks the rules. Videos involving children (anyone under the age of 18) are particularly sensitive. Videos containing children should never be sexually suggestive or violent.

Experts insist that effective parenting can help minimize insecurity, although nothing can completely eradicate it.

"Parents have to get serious about monitoring what their teens and tweens are doing. They've got to monitor regularly. They may not prevent [the video] from going up, but they need to catch it as soon as it goes up. They should use these videos as teachable moments. Perhaps ask the kids, 'How would you feel if you saw these comments?'" Klapow said.

Gibson is hoping that Faye's and her experience can help alert parents before their children's insecurities spiral into something dangerous.

"Hopefully it will open up the eyes of the parents," she said. "The kids aren't letting their parents know what's wrong, just like Faye didn't let me know. Hopefully, parents can get more proactive. [Faye's] internet usage is limited even more, I have the computer locked after a certain time. I've taken all the steps that I needed to take, here's another step I need to adjust and move on from."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Childhood Weight Bullying May Trigger Eating Disorders in Adulthood, Say Doctors

(PHOENIX) -- Children who are teased about their weight are less likely to have a desire for exercise or physical activity, say doctors at the Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders.

Particularly during preteen years, children are more susceptible to developing negative self-image, which can last into their adult years.  Consequently, children who are bullied about their weight are more sensitive to "poor body dissatisfaction," say psychologists.

"We know that weight bullying happens to a lot of children," said Dena Cabrera, PsyD, a psychologist and director of educational outreach at Remuda Ranch.  "Bullying can perpetuate the cycle of lack of exercise as well as using food as a source of comfort."

Dr. Cabrera says that the parents' role is crucial in matters of bullying or self image and that parents must work toward "creating a home environment that fosters healthful eating and physical activity."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio