Put up your hand if you’ve ever felt bad about the way you look.
Put up your hand if you’ve ever wanted to disappear.
Put up your hand if you’ve ever felt too unworthy to speak up.
Put your hand up. Because it seems that it is something that a significant number of young girls feel they can’t do.
This week, some important research was released that showed that many young girls are reluctant to put up their hands in class.
And it’s not because they don’t know the answer to the teacher’s questions.
It’s not because they haven’t been listening.
It’s because they don’t want anyone to look at them.
A new report by the Centre for Appearance Research in the UK has revealed that one in five young girls will not put up their hand in the classroom because they are scared that people will look at them and pass judgement on their appearance.
Think about that for a second.
A young girl feels so self-conscious about the way that she looks that she feels like she can’t draw attention to herself in the classroom.
She feels so bad that she can’t participate in her education.
She hates how she looks so much that she can’t learn.
She’s holding herself back because she’s scared of what other people think.
The idea of even one girl feeling that way is terrible. But 20 in 100? That’s a sign that we are failing fundamentally in the way that we, as a society, are talking to our girls about how much they are valued – and how much they should value themselves.
That so many girls in 2014 have such a low self-esteem that they would put their perceptions of their appearance ahead of such a simple part of childhood as raising your hand is a disaster.
This isn’t just happening in the UK – the study had a total sample of over 49,000 girls and women aged 10 to 60 across five continents.
This is happening everywhere.
Now, there has been a lot of back and forth over the last week about whether the gender-specific toys that we buy are making our kids sexist. And there has been a loud lobby, particularly women, who have said that Barbie never hurt anyone.