USA today released a new report that reveals the
impact of idealized, airbrushed beauty and body
image obsession on the economic well-being, health
and interpersonal relationships of American women
and girls. The report, Beauty at Any Cost, shows
alarming new trends and money spent on cosmetic
surgery alterations, including dramatic increases
among young women, and other serious health risks.
Young women and girls are increasingly spending more
money and going to unhealthy extremes to achieve an
unattainable image of physical perfection, according
to Tracy Lakatua, YWCA USA Board Chair. The costs
include physical harm, including risks posed by
smoking to maintain a low weight and risky cosmetic
surgeries; and mental and emotional harm, including
low self-esteem and interpersonal problems that
create an unhealthy, competitive "mean girls
culture." The report also reveals the health risks
of unsafe cosmetic ingredients and the consequences
of appearance-based job discrimination.
"We believe that the obsession with idealized beauty
and body image is a lifelong burden that takes a
terrible toll on all young girls and women in this
country," said YWCA USA CEO, Dr. Lorraine Cole.
"What's really new here is the sheer extent to which
women and girls are now willing to go -- literally
causing physical harm -- to be 'beautiful,'
according to the standards perpetuated by a
youth-obsessed media culture with literally
thousands of messages, 24 hours a day."
To help raise awareness and start a national
conversation about these issues, the YWCA USA has
teamed up with documentary filmmaker Darryl Roberts
to become the distribution partner of his new
documentary film, "America the Beautiful." The film
provides an in-depth look and critical analysis of
the harm inflicted by beauty obsession on young
women and girls.
"Darryl's amazing documentary provides an important
medium for our message, and we hope to reach a wide
audience through this important partnership," said
Dr. Cole. "The YWCA has been at the forefront of
women's issues in this country for the past 150
years, and we are prepared to raise awareness and
ignite a national dialogue about this issue as the
first steps to changing American culture and helping
women reclaim wholesome and healthy beauty."
The YWCA USA leadership and Roberts were joined
today by a panel of experts to discuss the report,
including Dr. Cheryl Dellasega, author of Girl Wars
and Mean Girls Grown Up; and Dr. Cynthia Frisby, a
media effects and advertising expert from the
University of Missouri School of Journalism.
About The YWCA
The YWCA USA is a national not-for-profit membership
organization dedicated to social service, advocacy,
education, leadership development and racial
justice. Established in the United States in 1858,
the YWCA is the oldest and largest national
organization dedicated to the empowerment of women
and girls and the elimination of racism. Through
nearly 300 local YWCAs located across the nation in
almost every state, and headquartered in Washington,
D.C., the YWCA reaches 2.5 million women and girls,
as well as their families. Globally, the YWCA USA is
part of an international movement at work in 122
countries serving 25 million women and girls
worldwide. For more information, visit our Web site,
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