Best Way to Love Your Looks

We’ve all done it. Picked up a magazine, flipped through it, looked at the photos of all the models and actresses, then compared our­selves to all the thin, supposedly perfect girls . . . and felt really, truly inferior.

Laura McEwen, publisher of YM magazine, one of the top teen magazines in the world (who’s been there herself) says this:

I had a gorgeous mother. It was daunting. To make myself feel better, and to help sort out my identity, I used to cut out pictures in magazines of all the models I wanted to look like. Anything seemed better to me than me.

Love Your Looks Best Way to Love Your Looks

Teens have an infusion of images that say you have to be so thin; they see them on TV, in magazines, on billboards, everywhere they look. Most teens have concerns about their changing appearance at some point, which is normal. Some girls snap out of it and move on. But many others get caught until it gets out of control. Their entire lives center on being thin and on dieting. I have personally known so many young women who have issues with eating—neighbors, relatives, friends in various stages of recovery from eating disorders. And they all began in their early teens.

I’m proud to say that at YM magazine, our editorial team (led by Christina Kelly) has taken a stand. YM is now promoting a variety of looks -different girls, different shapes, different sizes – in the pages of our magazine. We want to send the message that all appearances are to be admired, and will no longer promote dieting to our readers. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive from teens and their mothers; women from all over the country have written to express gratitude and admiration.

Laura’s goal is to send an important message: “Love yourself. Feel beautiful all the time, no matter what your shape or size or ethnic­ity. Love yourself because you are worthy of it.” Here’s how she sug­gests you start:

Talk to yourself in a positive way. Look in the mirror. Smile and laugh and say out loud, “I am beautiful.” Feel a little stupid do­ing that? Do it anyway!

Disregard negative messages from your parents about your body. This is a touchy subject, but an important one. Some parents send messages to their daughters, through words and non­verbal behaviors, that they don’t think their daughter’s bodies are okay. Fathers in particular play an important role in a teen girl’s self-esteem. If your dad makes comments or puts you down about your weight, diet, or your body, don’t let it get to you. Tell your parents to worry about their own bodies, and—unless a doctor is con­cerned—not about yours.

Find hobbies that shift your focus. If you’re bored and hanging out with nothing to do, you’re more likely to have time to obsess about food and dieting. Try some activities that make you feel good about yourself. Get involved in sports and outdoor activi­ties or volunteer and feel good about helping others.

Remember that actresses and models have insecurities, too. Given the fact that they have hairdressers, makeup artists, and lighting people making them look camera perfect, they should feel less-than-perfect, too.

So, should we all just accept what we see? Should we just think, “Oh well, there isn’t much we can do about it!”? Nope. Listen to Laura:

Take a stand. Help promote the idea that size shouldn’t matter. Write and e-mail magazine editors, your favorite celebrities, and modeling agencies. Ask them straight out: Why are you only showing girls who are so thin? The media and decision makers need to hear more from girls. Sure, girls won’t be able to make the pursuit of unrealis­tic beauty go away forever; society will always have its ideals. But you do have a chance to moderate it and make it less of a big deal.

Laura tells this story: “A reporter called to ask if YM was wor­ried about showing heavier models, less traditional models. Were we worried that we are glamorizing their imperfections?

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