Are Self-Esteem Posters for Girls Necessary?
New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has aimed his sights on the negative body images tween girls see in the media. The city is spending $330,000 to place posters in subways, depicting young girls of various races and body types. The hope is that young girls will see these non-professional models and internalize the message, "I'm beautiful the way I am."
Certainly our tween girls seem to suffer from a self-esteem crisis. And promoting a positive self-image for tween girls is a political gimme--who could argue against that? The posters are, indeed beautiful.
I wonder, though, what is a $330,000 poster campaign up against the billions of dollars the entertainment, make-up, and fashion industry spend saturating media with the image of polished, slender, and sexually available teenagers? I am afraid we've brought a water pistol to this four alarm blaze. Even if the government had more in its budget, is the government really tuned into what's hip? Did anyone in my generation listen when Nancy Reagan warned us to "Just Say No" to drugs?
Although $330,000 is just a blip in the city's budget, I wonder if that money would have been better spent on a program that helps girls build their own self-esteem from the inside, out. Wouldn't a girl's self-image have a more solid foundation if she builds it on her own growing competence? Wouldn't it be worthwhile to combat the stereotypes of girls in STEM subjects with a program that allows interested girls to develop their abilities alongside female mentors and role models?