Cross Post from our Powered By Girl website.

At  PBG we are so excited to join the Keep It Real Challenge with sister organizations Miss Representation, SPARK, Love/Social and I Am That Girl  because media messages and images affect us personally.  Whether our sisters and mothers are told they are outside of the perfect body image box, or we’re in our early 20s and still waking up in the morning frustrated “to see how my belly juts out against my pants,” as PBG blogger Jamie Martina, 23,  points out in her personal blog, we have been there and, at times, still are there.  In that place, where we constantly compare ourselves to every girl we see on TV to see what makes her so special and what makes us lacking.  In that place, where we check ourselves out in every store window and car window reflection we walk by, or feel shame about our stomach rolls when we sit down, trying to make sure we look just right, look just so, because the alternative is depressing.

Literally, depressing.  A Keep It Real Challenge fact tells us that “3 out of 4 teenage girls feel depressed, guilty, and shameful after spending three minutes leafing through a fashion magazine.” Three minutes?! What happens to teenage girls who buy their favorite mags to read cover to cover over long plane flights or car rides?  What does taking in those three minutes every day add up to? Answer: higher depression rates and lower self-esteem—but we knew that, the APA told us that back in their 2007 Task Force Report.

But look at us now, five years later and how far have we come?  Many of us at PBG were quite young when that report came out, or have grown into young women since its release.  PBG bloggers are all young women, ranging in age from 15-year-old high school sophomores to 23-year-old recent college graduates.  As the PBG blog coordinator, I am turning 26 in August.  But we’ve all been where these teen girls are now, reading our Cosmos and our Seventeen magazines, watching America’s Next Top Model and The Bachelorette, and many of us have younger sisters consuming these products at this very moment.  How can we have learned so much about the linking of negative media messages and impossible body image ideals to teen girl depression rates, low self-esteem and eating disorders over five years ago, but still live in a society perpetuating this destructive cycle?

From PBG to you.  Here’s why it’s important to Keep It Real!

“My sister Melissa is 9 years old, and has Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a form of muscular dystrophy. She wears leg braces and uses a walker.  But she, and every other girl out there, deserves to know that she is beautiful, which, as cliché as it sounds, is from the inside out.  I support the Keep It Real Campaign because physical beauty should not influence how teen and preteen girls perceive their worth. Seventeen, let us see real girls! Let us see real worth.”  YingYing Shang, age 16

“Ever since I was old enough to look at myself in the mirror, and be surrounded by other girls my age, I have doubted the way I look. It has taken me a long time to come to a place where I can be happy with myself, and everyday it’s still an uphill battle…whenever I see a photoshopped photograph of a beautiful woman who does not in any way need to be photoshopped, it hurts me, it hurts the woman, and it hurts every other girl and woman who can’t digitally alter the way they look in the mirror.” Hannah Johnston, age 16

“Media misrepresentation of real girls has spiraled out of control in recent years. Girls looking to fellow girls for inspiration have fewer places to turn. But this is a problem that its creators can solve. If magazines like Teen Vogue and Seventeen pledge to show one un-retouched spread per issue, girls will have a better understanding not only of their society but of themselves. The message that women are beautiful on their own is powerful, and is something that should be shared with the next generation of women leaders through our media.”  Erika Davidoff, age 17

“The Keep It Real Campaign is important because the media photoshops images so severely that the women they portray no longer look real and it’s impossible for girls like me to live up to this idealized image of beauty, yet it’s all we ever see. We need this campaign because the media wants me to think that the only way I can be successful is to be as thin and perfect as the models in these images. Girls need to see real, unphotoshopped women in the media because they need to know that their body, exactly how it is, in all its unique-ness and imperfection is actually far more beautiful than a digitally manipulated image could ever be.”  Maya Brown, 17

So we’re taking media over, now, us girls.  We understand our society has been obsessed with being thin, being tall, being White, and being “re-made.”  But you know what?  We like us the way we are and we don’t want anyone telling us that that’s not good enough.  Because we are smart, we are passionate, we are beautiful in every way a woman and girl can be beautiful, and we are not buying what you’re selling us.

Thanks for keeping it real with us.

PBG