Why Are Women And Girls So Under Pressure?
A report out last week suggests that a large number of women and girls in the UK are suffering from mental ill health.
It's not surprising, given the tremendous pressures on girls to achieve in all spheres and to conform to the current role models they see in the media.
From an early age they are groomed to be obsessed about the way they look and to be ultra-consumers. By the age of three, many have their first princess pampering kit complete with make-up and high heels. They pass from princess to popstar in the blink of an eye, with shops promoting padded bras for seven year olds and glittery Bratz heels.
The role models they see in the magazines are of footballers' wives and reality tv celebrities who all appear to dress in identikit outfits - little figure-hugging dresses, tottery high heels and lashings of make-up. Many seem to have had plastic surgery of some kind. Asked what their favourite activity is, it is invariably "shopping".
Their toys also reflect similar interests. The Bratz girls spend all their time at "the mall", for instance, and are made up to the nines. Barbie seems quite old-fashioned beside them. She is a "career girl", but only seems to do careers that maximise the amount of accessories she can sell. The tv programmes girls watch promote feisty girls - Witches of Waverley Place, Hannah Montana, etc - but they all seem to end up becoming pop stars and writhing around the floor in the usual pouting style as their record companies tout for the more grown-up market.
But it's not just this sexualisation that is the problem - it's the immense and increasing pressure to conform, the big sell, the total triumph of consumerism. The way everything is sold these days is so throwaway - it's as if everything can be bought and sold. Reality tv stars sell every aspect of their lives. There is nothing left. What impact does this have on girls' mental health? Not a good one, I imagine.Continued on the next page