Are Your Daughter’s Peers Making Her Feel Inadequate?

Body image is a sensitive image among the female gender in general, but it’s an especially touchy subject when it comes to young girls. For a long time, it was believed that the media, i.e., magazines, television and movies were what drove most girls to believe they should look a certain way and they still do to a certain extent, but a new study has discovered that girl’s friends and peers have a greater impact on how they see themselves then what’s portrayed in the media.

According to U.S. News Health, a group of 237 American Hispanic girls ages 10-17,  were questioned about “how they felt about their bodies, whether they had any eating disorder symptoms, their overall satisfaction with their lives, and whether or not they felt inferior to other girls”. The study also asked the girls to explain how much they use social media and to rate the appearance of the female characters on their top three TV shows.

Researchers at Texas A&M University discovered that  media and social media influences were not as influential to body image as “peer competition” or how the girls in the study thought they compared to their female peers.

As reported by U.S. Health News:

Our results suggest that only peer competition, not television or social media use, predict negative outcomes for body image. This suggests that peer competition is more salient to body and eating issues in teenage girls. However, social media use may provide a new arena for peer competition, even if it does not directly influence negative body outcomes. The study authors wrote.

When you think about, it makes sense that a girl’s friends or classmates would impact how she feels about herself more so than a supermodel because she interacts with these girls everyday. They probably go to the same school, ride the same bus, live in the same neighborhood and are probably even friends. The girl’s peers are a tangible example of what she desires to be or what she thinks she ought to be, while a television character is just that, a character. Someone playing a part for entertainment purposes. Someone the child has never met and probably never will so that figure is more of an idea while the girls in her class are a more realistic figures to mold after.

What do you think about these new results? While the first perceptions and development of self-esteem of how a girl see’s herself should be from her parents or loved ones (this being positive), a valid point was made through the research. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Dr. O

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