Out From Behind A Mask: Young Women Claim Their Right to Be Proud of How They Look

Bravo to the 84, ooo young women whose signatures on a Change.org internet petition persuaded Seventeen Magazine to adopt a “Body Peace Treaty” that promises not to change the shapes of the bodies and faces of their models, to “celebrate every kind of beauty,” and to feature “real girls and models who are healthy.”

Two things about this are profound to me: one is that 84,000 young women care enough that they have the right to be happy with themselves as they are that they signed this petition (which was started by a 14-year-old). Clearly, the “maiden generation” is already many steps ahead of where many women of my generation of feminists were at their age. It took me a long time to banish the vicious influence of all those magazine ads from my teen years and I’m thrilled that these women have already done so.  And maybe my generation of feminists can be justly proud that what we have done over the decades has made a difference to these young women.

The second deeply important message of this victory is that it begins to undo thousands of years of damage done by narrow and unattainable standards of women’s beauty that can do sometimes irreparable harm to women’s self-confidence and our ability to love ourselves as we are.  To realize how important this is, if you are my age – 50+ – consider how your life might have been different if at 14 you not only knew you were great as you were but also felt you had the power to persuade a gigantic corporation to change how they do business with you? What will happen now that there are so many women in this generation who will not stand down, give in, be ruled by society’s boundaries for women?

This is not only important for women in general, but also for the women’s spirituality movement. To me, one of the great transformations that occur when women begin to see and feel the presence of the Divine Feminine is that we understand that there are many ways women are beautiful. Thin was not in to the makers of the ancient statues of women that are robust, healthy, and plump. The faces of goddesses from around the world reflect many, many kinds of beauty from every heritage. When you look at goddess images you see 10,000 ways to be beautiful and it is clear that however you look is yet another.  How wonderful that these young women already know this message of women’s spirituality.

So, congratulations to those young women (and, two more young women who have started another petition to get Teen Vogue to adopt similar guidelines).  May this victory be one of many for you as you make a new world that is deserving of all you are and all you have to give.

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