Responding to objectification

Fuller Seminary‘s Youth Ministry Resource page has an article that discusses what sort of response Youth Ministers might make to a recent study that shows how profoundly a young girl’s internalized decision to see being attractive as more important than being competent can become.

“Researchers studying the influence of self-objectification, meaning the tendency to view our own bodies as ‘objects,’ have found that the way a girl feels about her body predicts how she’ll throw a softball. If she has learned that her body is an object and she needs to be concerned about her appearance at all times, she is far more likely to ‘throw like a girl.’

Most of us probably don’t include softball throwing in our list of youth ministry goals. But if it’s true that the way girls feel about their bodies affects the way they toss a ball, then it’s all the more true that the way they feel about their bodies impacts the way they view the One who created them in His image. As youth workers who seek to create space for this Holy One to work, recent research and media reports can help us respond to three ‘mores’ that bring new twists to not-so-new issues for our girls.”

Instead of just dismissing this as a funny little bit of news, consider this quote from the article:

Over 77,000 invasive surgical procedures were performed on teens 18 and younger in 2005, representing a 15% increase since 2000. While that in and of itself is shocking, consider this: minors cannot undergo these surgeries unless their parents consent. In most cases, since these procedures are not covered by medical insurance, the parents pay for the surgery as well.

The article goes on to list some action points that Youth leaders and clergy might consider as a way to respond to these pressures.

There’s no mention of how the same sorts of societal pressures are affecting young men in this article, though there have been a number of articles and books recently that have pointed out that some young boys are struggling in an “overly-feminized” classroom paradigm.

Read the rest here: Fuller’s Center for Youth and Family Ministry | Youth Ministry Resources

Care to share any strategies that have worked for you?

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