‘Selfie’ project will inspire important discussion

There is no doubt that women have made some incredible strides during the past century.

Once denied the right to vote, own property, attend school or hold jobs in certain professions, all of these opportunities are now open to both men and women without discrimination. And they now represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what women can and do achieve through hard work and determination.

Yes, in 2014 there are very few glass ceilings that women haven’t outright shattered, or at the very least cracked.

But for some reason, generally speaking, women’s views and insecurities when it comes to body image seem to have changed very little.

The media is often blamed for contributing to this culture by providing a multitude of mixed and antiquated messages about what is and is not “beautiful,” sometimes using unrealistic and even false or manipulated images to sell products. And as one looks at magazines, television shows, movies, and commercials that are part of today’s culture, it’s clear that it is certainly a factor.

But really, the media is just too easy of a target. Studies have proven that while these media messages have an impact, the strongest influences in a child’s life are that of his or her parents and immediate family members. This fact is both encouraging, because it is something that can be controlled, and terrifying for that very same reason.

The idea that parents — especially moms — can ultimately have strong influences on their daughters’ body image is being addressed in an innovative way at one local school. As an article in today’s Post-Record details, a project undertaken by Jemtegaard Middle School teacher Jennifer Bohn-Snapp aims to help reshape how beauty and body image are defined. The project has mothers and their daughters putting their insecurities aside to capture realistic and unedited versions of themselves in cell phone “selfie” pictures. Those pictures will be on display at the school Friday.

But the most important part of this project may not be the untouched pictures that will hang on the wall in the gallery show, but instead on the discussion between mothers and daughters about body image, beauty and self-worth that they will undoubtedly inspire. For the 50 girls who are participating, this project has the very real potential to be life-changing.

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