Bloomberg unveils self-esteem campaign for young girlsPosted on October 7, 2013 | by Allison Yang
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York City Girls Project aims to foster young girls’ self-esteem and encourage positive body image. According to the project’s website, New York is the first city to implement this type of program.
“The project aims to help girls believe their value comes from their character, skills and attributes, not appearance, while also expanding the definition of beauty behind an unhealthy, manufactured ideal,” said Samantha Levine, the director of the New York City Girls Project.
The $300,000 project will organize a curriculum for after-school programs, as well as posters for subways and buses. The project aims to capture the attention of girls who are 7 to 12 years old.
Levine said self-esteem issues are starting younger and younger.
“We hear stories of 7-year-old girls refusing dessert or telling their moms they feel fat, undergoing plastic surgery because they are bullied about their appearance,” Levine said. “Not only is this troubling on a visceral level but there are real health consequences to negative body image and poor self-esteem, eating disorders, obesity, bullying, alcohol use, smoking, early sex and teen pregnancy. These consequences made a compelling case for New York City to take action. Nobody has been a greater public health leader than Mayor Bloomberg.”
“Girls in NYC already feel that they have to meet certain standards to ‘fit in’ by the time they’re young adults,” CAS sophomore Emily Patrick said. “They need to realize that the media’s images of girls and women are unrealistic, that there is a difference between being skinny and being healthy and that how you look doesn’t define you.”
CAS sophomore Joan Lew said this issue will not be solved by posters alone.
“I’m not too sure that it’ll catch on, since appearance and fashion are such important factors in New York, but I really hope that it does,” Lew said. “Perhaps if Bloomberg somehow involved very influential celebrities in the campaign, then more girls would listen.”
Bloomberg’s previous health policy movements have been met with opposition. They include a ban on sugary drinks bigger than 16 ounces, which was met with both support and opposition. The regulation was taken both to the State Supreme Court and appealed in the appellate court, but still declared unconstitutional. Other major health policies include giving out emergency contraceptive medication to 14-year-olds without parental consent, circumcision regulations for Orthodox Jews, and anti-smoking and anti-teen pregnancy ads.
“I can definitely say that young women are susceptible to body based self-esteem issues that may lead to issues with food … but I cannot speak to the possible effect of the campaign or what would be best to communicate the ‘value in character, not outward appearance’ to them,” CAS senior Wilson Mourad said.