Monday, August 13, 2007

Girl POV: Tayla, Age 14

Reading statistics on how media images influence girls is one thing. But we all need to listen extra carefully when girls describe these pressures in their own words. Fourteen-year-old Tayla wrote to us about her dream of starting a camp for tween and teen girls next summer. Tayla is recovering from anorexia and she wants to find a way to use her own experience to reach out to other girls. We invited her to submit a post. Here is what she had to say:

With all the media images and fake information that tells teenagers they are "supposed" to look a certain way, it can be hard to stay true to your inner self. It's just disturbing to know that the models have to be digitally fixed by the computer. I heard that it only takes 3 minutes to look at a fashion or gossip magazine and people start to feel bad about themselves. These magazines are putting impossible images into the world and it is affecting tons of people, especially women and teenage girls. The type of magazine that I would like to see would be one that focuses on every body type and how women love their bodies just the way they are.

I want to let everyone know about a camp that my Mom and I would really love to open. It's a camp in New Hampshire where girls around the ages 10-15 can come and learn to love their bodies and themselves.

When we first had the idea to start this camp, we were just taking an everyday walk with our dogs near our home, and we really wanted to do something to help girls. I was diagnosed with anorexia in 2005. I have gone through lots of ups and downs and have had very tough times but I am healing and becoming better day-by-day. I hope I never see any girl have to go through what I went through and I know it was very hard on my family. By starting this camp, I hope to guide the girls away from the media images and toward their own unique beauty and inner self.

My mom I and have found tons of great [resources] that include Full of Ourselves, Girls Speak Out, and Turn Beauty Inside Out. We hope to take all of our great books and combine them together to form a unique format for us to follow! We would hope for the camp to be open for the first time in the 2008 summer! We would just like to start small for the first year, so a 10- day session for 5-7 girls would be max. We hope to find a professional speaker to come in and speak to our girls about body image and self-esteem, and other local artists, nutritionists, and teen mentors to share their knowledge! There would also be activities such as camping outdoors, canoeing, hiking, swimming, day trips, and more!

We wish Tayla and her mom the best of luck in getting their camp going. If you have any words of encouragement for Tayla or resources to recommend, please post your comments. Do you work in beauty or fashion? What advice can you offer to her and other teen girls who feel discouraged when they can't measure up to the images of perfection?

You can also send your messages
here. We will be sure to forward them on to Tayla.

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