A Review of Bathing Beauties Essay
Anna Schnur-Fishman presents a compelling argument for teaching healthy body image and self esteem in her article “Bathing Beauties”. Set in the communal shower of a summer camp, Schnur-Fishman described how she and her friends developed their positive body image. Through group support and open conversations, the girls who showered in the communal shower and learned that beauty was not what they saw on TV or on a billboard. In fact, they learned that no one really looked like those images.
And through this communal showering the girls learned to love their bodies and all their imperfections. These experiences and lessons were such that Schnur-Fishman and her friends have carried then throughout their lives. Anna Schnur-Fishman makes several interesting and valid points in favor of the communal showering in the BIK. First she discussed the idea of community support. According to Schnur-Fishman, everyone had to shower together, so no one was judgmental of another’s bodies.
In fact, Schnur-Fishman, discussed one conversation where all the girls said out loud one thing they did not like about themselves. As a friend of the author’s stated, she never noticed the flaws the other girls. The realization showed her that if she was not paying attention to others flaws, others were not paying attention to hers. This exercise instilled in them that girls can feel beautiful no matter what they may think is wrong with their bodies. This is a beautiful idea because, as Schnur-Fishman notes, outside American culture often does not provide young girls this type of support.
Instead, our culture, more than any other, pushes an unrealistic image of female beauty. Schnur-Fishman continued to discuss the idea of multigenerational exposure. At peak shower times, the age range in the shower could be from 8-25 years old. This allowed for the older girls to really be role models for the younger girls. In today’s culture, young girls look up to actresses and models, these images do nothing but further warp a girl’s sense of self and body image.
Following in line with this idea, the author stated that the BIK was “a reality check”. Again, no one is perfect. The only way for a young girl to learn this is to see that others have flaws and no one really pays them any attention. Schnur-Fishman also stated that she believed the communal shower was a way to “push back against American culture”. By feeling good about oneself and not being ashamed, a girl has power over what the mainstream culture is trying to teach her. She mentioned that how good they felt should have been criminal.
Schnur-Fishman made a valid point here because it often does seem very unacceptable for a female to feel good about herself. Find a group of females and listen to their conversation. Chances are you will hear them complain about how bad they look or how fat they feel. You can almost guarantee that if one of the females said something positive about themselves, she would get the cold shoulder or some negative response from the others (eyes rolling, fake, shallow agreement, talking behind her back when she goes to the bathroom, etc).
The last point the author discussed was the joy she felt in the BIK. She stated that it was liberating, being free and remembering what is was like before she cared about her body. It gave her and the other girls the chance to relax and let loose. They did not have to try to up hold any type of image. I think the Schnur-Fishman made some very good points. It is unfortunate that even in today’s culture, were we say we promote healthy living and encourage self esteem, so many girls suffer.
The images we show our young girls and the words we say contradict each other, only confusing ours girls into personally insecurities. We tell them to love them selves no matter what they look like. Then we show them that beauty is comes in tall and skinny package, with clear skin. This unrealistic body image is causing more emotional and health related problems among our young girls than sometimes we care to realize. Giving our young girls opportunities to feel good about them self is only the first step to reclaiming their own personal power.
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