Attitudes toward body image are formed early in life, and the Council’s Kids Come In All Sizes Project seeks to improve the self-esteem and self-image of young girls and boys, and to combat the discriminatory attitudes toward large bodies which are promoted by the media and the fashion and diet industries.

We feel that this work is especially important in light of the devastating statistics on chronic dieting, low self-esteem, and eating disorders among young girls. Fifty percent of 9-year-old girls and 80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted. Ninety percent of high school junior and senior women diet regularly, even though only 10% to 15% are over the weight recommended by the standard height-weight charts. Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents. For more statistics, with citations, go to Facts and Figures.

Most of the girls we see in our test workshops are obsessed with being thin. When the “waif look” was introduced, girls considered it an indication that they were still not thin enough. One of them said, “I thought I just had to look like Christie Brinkley. Now I have to look like Kate Moss?!” The fashion and diet industries try hard to deny it, but there is no doubt that the sharp rise in eating disorders can be directly attributed to the obsession with dieting and thinness. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate (up to 20%) of any psychiatric diagnosis, and can be fatal even during recovery, when girls are no longer starving themselves.

Girls develop eating and self-image problems before drug or alcohol problems. Nevertheless, there are drug and alcohol programs in almost every school, but no eating disorder programs. We advocate for body image programs in schools, we give workshops and pilot programs to demonstrate the importance of such programs, and we provide technical assistance to any individual, group, or educational institution starting a body image and self-esteem program.


Facts and Figures

Kids and Teens Bibliography