Self-Esteem, Incentives, and the Olympics: The Weekend RoundUp
As we head into the last weekend in July, I wanted to share a few things on the web and in the news that touch on items we’ve discussed.
Two months ago I wrote about my concern for the way media images of women distort the self-image of our daughters by holding up an unreal – actually artificial – picture of what women’s bodies should be. So I was incredibly heartened by the efforts and accomplishment of 14 year-old Julia Bluhm. Julia, sick and tired of the Photoshopped photographs of “perfect” women in magazines, started a petition on Change.org asking that the popular teen magazine Seventeen to run one unaltered photo spread a month. Here’s part of Julia’s rationale:
Girls want to be accepted, appreciated, and liked. And when they don’t fit the criteria, some girls try to “fix” themselves. This can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self esteem.
I’m in a ballet class with a bunch of high-school girls. On a daily basis I hear comments like: “It’s a fat day,” and “I ate well today, but I still feel fat.” Ballet dancers do get a lot of flack about their bodies, but it’s not just ballet dancers who feel the pressure to be “pretty”. It’s everyone. To girls today, the word “pretty” means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It’s because the media tells us that “pretty” girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin.
Here’s what lots of girls don’t know. Those “pretty women” that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often photoshopped, air-brushed, edited to look thinner, and to appear like they have perfect skin. A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life. As part of SPARK Movement, a girl-fueled, national activist movement, I’ve been fighting to stop magazines, toy companies, and other big businesses from creating products, photo spreads and ads that hurt girls’ and break our self-esteem. With SPARK, I’ve learned that we have the power to fight back.
86,000 digital signatures later, Seventeen has gone even further than Julia requested by pledging that they will no longer use Photoshop to alter bodies and when technology is used to clean up photos to note that in the article and direct readers to the untouched photos on one of their blogs. You can find a longer article with helpful links at Good.
I stumbled on more info. about the study I mentioned a couple of weeks ago relating to incentives and test performance at the Freakonomics blog. Here you’ll find an article on their findings, the extended report on their study, a podcast/radio interview, and several other articles. The really interesting thing for me in this particular case is that this particular experiment and study wasn’t about preparation, but only performance. That is, kids weren’t told way ahead of time that they would be rewarded for scoring better so that they could prepare better, but only shortly before the test and yet they were still motivated to work harder and do better even absent more preparation.
Okay, so I haven’t written on this before, but given that the Olympics are opening tonight – and because ever since my first Olympic viewing experience in 1972 in Munich (complete with a crush on Olga Korbut ) I’ve been a huuuuge fan of the Olympics – I thought I’d share this artice from The Smithsonian blog on the origin of those little symbols that help an international audience navigate all the different sporting events that make up the Games. In this day of emoticons and brand logos, I found it interesting to read up on this particular piece of Olympic history and learn about how clear and clever design helped surmount an incredible linguistic barrier.