10 Year-Olds Diet to Improve Their Looks

A new national campaign has been launched to counter the adverse effects of the media’s depiction of women as sex objects which has contributed to a startling new statistic – 80 percent of 10 year-old gilrs have, at some point in their lives, gone on at least one diet.

CBS Seattle is reporting that the Keep It Real campaign, which is a joint effort between Miss Representation, the SPARK Movement, Love Social, Endangered Bodies and I Am That Girl, is trying to counter the dangerous new trend among ever-younger girls who try to imitate fashion stars such as Kim Kardashian and Beyonce through fad dieting. The campaign is trying to heighten awareness among adults  – from parents to editors of major fashion magazines and media outlets – to be more careful about how they present true beauty to children.

“More specifically, the campaign is asking a slew of well-known beauty magazines to publish at least one unaltered photo per month in the effort to reshape what they feel is an unrealistic representation of women,” CBS Seattle reports.

The fact that 80 percent of 10 year-olds are dieting is just one of many startling statistics released by the campaign to highlight the extent of the problem.  They also refer to another study that found 53 percent of 13 year-0ld girls who are unhappy with their bodies, a number that increases to 78 percent by age 17.

These statistics are very much in line with research conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) which has found that between 40 and 60 percent of children ages 6 to 12 are concerned about their weight or becoming too fat, and 70 percent would prefer to be thinner

“It’s bad out there, it’s brutal, it’s hard … [and] we’re seeing it younger and younger,” Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, told CBS Seattle. “I’ve seen a girl as young as 8 years old on a feeding tube. It’s a serious problem.”

According to Grefe, as many as half of all female teens, and a third of all male teens – are using risky means to lose weight such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting or taking laxatives.

Unfortunately, what most people don’t realize is just how damaging these eating disorders can be to a growing child.

“A significant amount of cognitive and psychological growth happens, as well as physical [during childhood and teenage years],” said Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, attending physician at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Breuner, to CBS Seattle. “[Not eating] curbs brain and height development.”

There are many things that can be done to turn this trend around, says Amy Zucchero, campaign director for Miss Representation. For instance, adults can be more careful about what kind of media their children are exposed to, particularly shows or print publications that present distorted images of male and female beauty. They should also be aware of how they converse about the subject of beauty around their children, who are heavily influenced by their parents’ world views.

“It starts in the home,” Zucchero told CBS Seattle. “Magazines are lying around family’s houses … and at newsstands and check-out counters. You can’t go to the grocery store without seeing an altered picture of a woman. . .  And the way men and women talk about other women, like they’re objects … when you talk about people like that, kids pick up those habits.”

Aside from urging those who disseminate these materials to be more responsible, experts say parents need to be more proactive in combating the issue.

“Parents need … to encourage healthy relationships with food, and make eating together a time of sharing, not a time of talking about grams or calories,” Grefe said.

Essentially, children need to learn that beautiful people come in all different shapes and sizes.

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