The Pressure on Adolescent Girls

The security settings on my devices are set to keep much about me private. Because of this, I receive ads that wouldn’t generally be targeted to my demographic: men’s swim trunks, teaching materials for elementary school children, hunting rifles.

One day, a recommended app popped up on my phone and I almost cried. It was this:

The Slim & Skinny app, a selfie filter that makes bodies and faces slimmer

What a horrible message wrapped up in pretty packaging. You’re not good enough the way you are. It made me think about how high school graduation photos have changed over the years.

In the 1950s at my high school, everyone wore black graduation gowns with white collars that highlighted the face and concealed the body.

My class, in 1974, was the first to wear regular clothing. Boys were directed to wear a tie and suit coat (which masked the body); girls were directed to wear a black top without a collar. Subtle jewelry was acceptable.

The only black top I owned was a leotard. I wasn’t the kind of daughter to ask to go shopping for something else and mine wasn’t the kind of family to buy something else if what we had could work.

I wore my leotard. I remember being concerned about the size of my breasts relative to the size of the breasts of my classmates.

My younger friends post their children’s graduation photos on Facebook and Instagram, and I sigh at the pressure on the girls. Official graduation photos are no longer headshots but full-body shots. The girls-growing-into-women often wear midriff tops to show off a slim waist.

Is the slim waist real or photoshopped? And what do you do if no amount of photoshopping is enough? And how does it feel to look in the mirror and not see the photoshopped version of you?

Yesterday I was listening to Monica Lewinsky on Kara Swisher’s podcast and learned two things:

  1. Monica Lewinsky is not a bimbo.
  2. Adolescent girls will take 150 selfies to get one they like enough to post.

What is it like to reject 149 photos of yourself?

I know the answer isn’t burkas or a return to the 1950s, but we have to think of something.

We’re hurting our daughters by making them believe they’re not beautiful as they are.


Chewing the Cud of Good

Sliced heirloom tomatoes, glistening with olive oil

Thankful for stories that teach us and unite us and give us hope.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.