Childrearing

NYC Becomes First Major City To Awesomely Debut Self-Esteem Boosting Campaign For Girls

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iamagirl1This autumn, I’ll have my eyes peeled for not formula shamey public advertisements or teen mom shamey ads (which still populate subway lines), but for NYC Girls Project –a new effort by Mayor Bloomberg to enhance the self-esteem of young girls. New York City is reportedly the first major city to throw a chunk of change down in the name of promoting healthy body image for “females” — a shocker in it of itself given how deeply in the toilet their collective body confidence is.

The New York Times reports that the $330,000 campaign, which contains no professional models but rather the daughters of city workers and friends of friends, is not just limited to bus and subway ads of young ladies of all sizes and races and mobility. NYC Girls project will also include fitness classes, a program addressing self-esteem issues specifically for girls at 75 after-school programs, and hopefully a robust Twitter conversation with #ImAGirl. Thirty second videos which offer “resources” for both parents and daughters will also be debuted on YouTube, the project’s website, and in taxis. And given the nauseating stats on girls and body image, experts are hopeful about this campaign:

Christopher Ochner, a researcher of obesity, eating disorders and nutrition at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in Manhattan, said the ads could be effective because they offered a more realistic picture than “the media’s portrayal of ideal beauty, which is still this stick-thin, crazy-thin” standard. Average girls, he added, look at fashion models and say, “ ‘If I’m not like that, then nobody’s going


City officials cited evidence in The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing and elsewhere that more than 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, that girls’ self-esteem drops at age 12 and does not improve until 20, and that that is tied to negative body image.
to need me or love me.’ ”

You can thank 38-year-old Samantha Levine, the project director as well as Bloomberg’siamagirl2 deputy press secretary, for coming up with the idea. Upon being inundated by stories of young girls getting cosmetic surgery and  “wearing body-shaping undergarments,” Levine says that she was inspired. She maintains that the confidence of women has miles to go in terms of progress:

“I think being a woman in this society, it’s sort of impossible to not be aware of the pressures there are around appearance, around weight, around trying to always look a certain way,” Ms. Levine said.

Clearly for a lot of girls, body positivity either begins or ends in the home. But here’s hoping these advertisements reach those young ladies who aren’t fortunate enough to have this kind of support or awareness in their parents. And for those that do, it’s just more affirmation.

(photo: nyc.gov)