Here’s a sobering statistic: about half of girls between the ages of five and nine wish they were skinnier. Before they’re even old enough to read, these kids are taught that being thin is what it means to be beautiful.
Kindergarteners should not be anxious about their weight.
Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, has studied the ways in which constantly thinking about appearance can impede the cognitive performance, self-image, and mental health of women and girls.
“Beauty sickness,” as she calls this phenomenon, is a problem that does real harm. Women shouldn’t have to worry about changing their hair, face, body, and clothes when there’s an entire world out there that needs their attention.
For a sharp assessment of beauty in Western culture and ideas for positive change, check out our Instaread on Beauty Sick.