The Keep It Real Campaign claims that 80% of 10 year old girls have been on a diet at some point in their short lives.
“[A total of] 53 percent of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies,” another blurb reads. “That number increases to 78 percent by age 17.”
As Candice Leigh Helfand, writing for CBS Seattle, reports, research from the National Eating Disorders Association backs up the Keep It Real campaign’s assertions. NEDA say that roughly half of children aged 6 to 12 have concerns about their weight and 70% would prefer to be thinner.
“It’s bad out there, it’s brutal, it’s hard … [and] we’re seeing it younger and younger,” Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, told CBS Seattle. “I’ve seen a girl as young as 8 years old on a feeding tube. It’s a serious problem.”
This isn’t just about creating and perpetuating unreal perceptions of what women should look like. Dr Cora Collette Breuner, an attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, notes that eating disorders cause real harm to a growing child:
“A significant amount of cognitive and psychological growth happens, as well as physical [during childhood and teenage years],” Breuner, who also serves as an associate professor at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, told CBS Seattle. “[Not eating] curbs brain and height development.”
The Keep It Real campaign is a joint effort by I Am That Girl, Miss Representation, Love Social, Endangered Bodies and the SPARK Movement. It was created to get everyone, from magazines to parents, to think about how they create ideas of beauty in a child’s mind and what effect their words and actions have on the child. They have asked beauty magazines to publish at least one untouched photo per month to help stem the perpetuation of a supposed ideal which doesn’t exist in the real world.
Amy Zuchhero is campaign director for Miss Representation and said that the main cause of distorted images was media irresponsibility combined with lax parenting:
“It starts in the home. Magazines are lying around family’s houses … and at newsstands and check-out counters. You can’t go to the grocery store without seeing an altered picture of a woman,”
Everyone involved agreed that greater parental care was needed to avoid one’s child growing up with a distorted perception of beauty and a greater risk of developing an eating disorder.