This is the first step in making diets for young people more realistic, achievable and more aimed at health and less about perpetually attempting to win favor with peers.
Second, educational and awareness programs need to concentrate on assisting young people to see the value of themselves as innately who they are. The use of Myers-Briggs personality tests to assist young girls with the discovery of their innate strengths and abilities in addition to tests to capture their innate cognitive abilities would give them an opportunity to see themselves more in a holistic perspective of total abilities. This would get them out of seeing their values only in the context of their image or appearance. As the cases in Argentina indicate, the valuation of beauty as a proxy for competence dominates their culture (Ballve, 2006) yet does not produce any increase in women who have advanced degrees or seek PhDs in universities in-country or in foreign nations educational institutions.
Instead of allowing diet to be the focal point of a young persons life the balance of their appearance and their innate intellectual skills needs to be achieved. This can also be accomplished through programs that are created, launched and maintained in guidance counseling sessions in middle school and high school. In addition parents need to be given these specific insights and given assistance in helping their young children, middle schoolers and high schoolers to see their value not just from their appareance but from their ability to use their innate strengths as well. Only by creating programs such as these will young people, specifically young girls, be able to break out of a cycle of continually seeking their value in the context of how others see themselves rather than how they see themselves. The need for a program that can motivate parents to also provide the necessary support to bolster their confidence is also critically important. Earlier in this analysis it was mentioned how critically important the role of immediate family members are in the creation of consistent self-image. This needs to be brought to the forefront of parent lives so they can continually assist their children to see their innate value beyond merely appearance. Conversely the need to show how to have a healthy diet and stay away from the high-fat convenience fast foods that do little to deliver nutritional value also need to be underscored as well. Only by creating a program that can accomplish this objective on a national basis can the obesity epidemic that is beginning to become prevalent with teenagers on the one hand and the role of destructive dieting on the other be overcome. Truly moderation of these two opposite ends of the extreme is critically important for young people to see themselves as innately valuable and talented.
The role of social networks, those of the family and extended family kind, have the greatest impact on children today and their self-image regarding dieting, and their propensity to accept themselves or not (French, Story, Downes, Resnick, Blum,1995). The lack of these family and extended family networks conversely can lead to extreme dieting becoming a proxy or crutch for the lack of confidence and self-esteem family networks can provide (Nunes, Barros, Olinto, Camey, Mari, 2003). For a young person to have a healthy frame of reference relative to their dieting they need to also have a strong social network providing them assurance of their value and self-worth. The role of electronic social networks (Bernoff, Li, 2008) has been successful in creating networks of young people, specifically girls, who face these challenges. Yet in the end there is no substitute for a strong family base or at least an extended group of friends, many of them adults, reaffirming and giving support to a young person as to their innate value. Not relying purely on appearance and instead assisting them to find their innate strengths beyond appearance for perspective to be maintained is key.
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