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NYC’s Latest Campaign: Improving Girls’ Self Esteem

Update Date: Oct 03, 2013 02:24 PM EDT

New York City's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg is known for his aggressive programs that promote a healthier lifestyle. Bloomberg has banned smoking in numerous settings, attempted to ban oversized drinks and created graphic advertisements to dissuade smoking and teenage pregnancies. Even though Bloomberg's campaigns often come with harsh criticisms, nothing has gotten in the way of Bloomberg's agenda to make New York City a better place to live. In his latest project, Bloomberg tackles the issue of body image by helping young girls improve their self-esteem.

"Girls as young as seven were undergoing plastic surgery because they were being bullied about their appearance," said Samantha Levine, Bloomberg's deputy press secretary and project director for the city's new NYC Girl's Project self-esteem campaign. "Girls in that same age range were buying Spanx."

This new program, which has a budget of $330,000, aims to educate young girls about loving themselves based on their own character. Data reveals that around 80 percent of 10-year-old girls believe that they are fat. In order to draw the attention away from physical appearance, this program wants to help girls realize that what is considered beautiful can extend way past one's facial structure and body size. This program, unlike many of Bloomberg's other ones, takes a more encouraging approach.

The program includes a series of advertisements targeted to girls between the ages of seven and 12. The advertisements use pictures of young girls from all ages, races and sizes. Along with the pictures are real life stories. The program hopes that by using real stories, the advertisements would connect to girls better. In addition, even though eating disorders often start during one's teenage years, the program aims to educate younger girls so that they can become more resistant to the body image standards set by pop culture.

"It's basically building resilience, hopefully, before all of the bad messages are allowed to permeate and do any damage," commented Marney White reported by TIME. White is an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale's School of Public Health. "It's a lot harder to undo once the damage has set in."

Even though the idea behind this new program is great, researchers are not sure that the program will have lasting effects. Several research studies have found both positive and negative effects of promoting a healthier mindset when it comes to feeling beautiful. These contradicting findings suggest that the way the program is structured and how it speaks to young girls are huge factors in determining whether or not it will be successful. 

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