WHAT “is” BEAUTY?

Behind The Seams (definition #1)

The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or the senses – and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of originality, artistry & truthfulness.

 (definition #2)

One that is beautiful, especially a beautiful woman.

The first definition affords us an opportunity to achieve “beauty” — anyone can be original and truthful as well as artistic and excellent at something.  But by accepting that second definition, are we dooming our girls’ positive self image?  Surely, today’s girl is smart enough to know that she’ll never naturally look like the celebrities in those air-brushed photos. 

Why should the reflection staring back at us in the mirror be compared against the look-a-like models sashaying down the fashion runway, between the folds of magazines, on TV and in mainstream films?  Why have we allowed our own perceptions of beauty to be manipulated by the lens of a camera coupled with the skills of a Photoshop artist?

According to a national study conducted by Dove:

  • 92% of girls want to change their appearance
  • 7-in-10 girls feel they do not measure up in some way

Our children would benefit from seeing positive messages about beauty in lieu of the gender stereotypes and unrealistic body images they are exposed to today.  Consider this finding from a nationwide study by the Girls Scouts of America and the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, while 75% of girls surveyed say that fashion is really important to them:

  • nearly 90% say that the fashion industry (89%) and/or the media (88%) place a lot of pressure on them to be thin
  • 60% say that they compare their bodies to fashion models
  • 81% of girls would rather see “real” or “natural” photos of models than touched-up airbrushed versions

Have we created an unattainable model of beauty? 

KooDooZ event

To empower young girls, and redefine beauty, KooDooZ and designer Hanna Hartnell is hosting “Behind the Seams – Redefining Beauty” on Saturday, July 31st, 2010.

The day will begin with an interactive Life Revolution workshop designed to help girls find their pace and unlock their potential.  The next hour revolves around fashion itself.  The purpose here is to help girls answer such questions as: “Why do clothes look so good on one person and not so good on others?” From body types to color compliments, the girls will learn what is likely to work best for them.

The final hour is wrapped in an act of volunteerism where the girls can apply the new skills they learned in the creation of hand-made greeting cards — or as we call them, “caring cards” — by using silk & fashion cuts as their design elements.  Each hand-crafted card will be donated to the American Red Cross, Santa Monica chapter, which may use them to thank or console their community in need.

By engaging the girls in a meaningful and productive activity that benefits a greater good, it is clear there will also be a benefit to their psychological well-being.  Over the past two decades, a growing body of research indicates that people who volunteer at young ages see health benefits later in life because volunteering brings a sense of fulfillment, a higher self-esteem and a feeling of personal control.

Behind The Seams – Redefining Beauty teaches girls that through their own creativity and generosity, they can use their arts & craft skills to gain the confidence in recognizing that beauty should be defined by what they do versus how they look.

H.R. 4925

There are actions you can take to support healthy media images for girls.  Amy Jussel, founder of Shaping Youth, offers a wealth of information about the “Healthy Media For Youth Act”, which takes a three-pronged approach to promote healthy media messages about girls and women. 

  • First, the bill creates a competitive grant program to encourage and support media literacy programs and youth empowerment groups. 
  • Second, the bill also facilitates research on how depictions of women and girls in the media affect youth. 
  • Third, it establishes a National Taskforce on Women & Girls in the Media which will develop voluntary standards that promote healthy, balanced and positive images of girls and women in the media for the benefit of all youth.

It’s “behind the seams” that matters

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty video about the distorted images media can portray.

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