Posts Tagged ‘self-esteem’

News Day Tuesday: Teens Be Thinking Dey Da Bomb

December 30, 2008

Around 5,000 teenagers gather in front of Berlin’s town hall on November 12, 2008 to demonstrate for better education systems. (photo: Tobias Schwarz / Reuters)

Self-esteem, self-esteem…everyone’s always talking about self-esteem, especially the self-esteem of young people.  Well you know what?  It turns out that you high schoolers think quite highly of yourselves…at least according to this study that appeared in the November issue of Psychological Science.  (You can read more about the study here and here.)

Researchers examined answers that thousands of U.S. high school students gave to questions about how they viewed themselves.  They found that of the students surveyed in 2006:

  • 15.6% reported earning an A average in high school, compared to 7.7% in 1976
  • 54.4% thought they’d be “very good” parents, compared to 35.6% in 1975
  • 56.4% thought they’d be “very good” spouses, compared to 36.7% in 1975
  • 64.7% thought they’d be “very good” workers, compared to 48.8% in 1975
  • 72.8% said they were satisfied with themselves, compared to 67.4% in 1975

So yay right?  It seems like students today are more confident in themselves.  This news is all peaches and cream and rainbows and giggles!  But ohhhh…Jean Twenge of San Diego State University (one of the researchers of the study) says hold on and pump the brakes!

“What this shows is that confidence has crossed over into overconfidence…High school students‘ responses have crossed over into a really unrealistic realm, with three-fourths of them expecting performance that’s effectively in the top 20 percent.”  According to Twenge, “uncritical boosterism” by parents and grade inflation by teachers may be fostering expectations that could be in for a rude awakening in the real world.  And Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University who has studied self-esteem, worries that kids may have become more fragile and less able to take criticism well.  He says, “Thinking you’re God’s gift to the world is nice for you.  It’s a little harder for everyone else around you.”  Ouch.

But hey…it’s not all rain on the parade!  Even Twenge stresses that thinking you’re the bomb isn’t necessarily bad: “Young people have always had some degree of starry-eyed optimism, and that’s probably a good thing.  And setting goals for yourself is a good thing.  It’s just when those goals are wildly unrealistic, then that can cause trouble for everyone.”

Jennifer Crocker, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and a longtime researcher in self-esteem, says that today’s youth might be right to be more self-confident: “The fact is that we are all getting smarter – IQ is going up quite dramatically over this same period of time.  Students may believe that they are getting trained better than they used to, that they are learning skills that they didn’t use to have.  So, maybe their predictions aren’t unreasonable.”

Also chiming in is Brent Roberts, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who argues that not only is high self-esteem more likely to protect youth against depression, but that having optimistic goals may lead people to do better.  He says, “We don’t know what these kids eventually are going to do.  Maybe a lot of them will be great workers and better at family life than their parents were.”

So does this study reflect your reality?  Are y’all as confident as this study suggests?  Do you think having high self-esteem is good?  Bad?  A double-edged sword?  Twenge mentioned “unrealistic” goals and expectations.  What does that mean?  How do you know if you’re being “unrealistic”?  Where do you draw the line between being practical and limiting yourself?  Is it bad to aim too high?

A Contest!!!

December 23, 2008


I would first like you give Kathy a shout-out…. She has been amazing with this blog, and has truly livened it up with her humor, intelligence and her outlook on life. Kendra and I love love love her writing! Kendra is doing well with baby Marcus, and is officially able to get out of her place from time to time… which is REALLY good because she was going a little stir-crazy. I am done on the Ville. I had a wonderful few months and will miss many of my Smallville peeps dearly.

So…. during this holiday lull, we are throwing out a really exciting contest for all teen girls from 13-17 in the L.A. area. If you are NOT in L.A. but are willing to get yourself there, that is fine too. A newsletter saying the exact same thing will be going out tonight or tomorrow… If you have questions just comment them, or e-mail them. If there are FAQs, I will post the answers before I leave on the 25th. Here are the details:


TIMEOUT RETREAT and GIRLS BY DESIGN partner for this unique retreat sponsored by Warner Springs Ranch in Temecula, California.

TIMEOUT FOR TEENS is an overnight holistic retreat for teen girls where they will have the opportunity to attend rotations designed to empower them to have access to tools to achieve balance in their lives.
There will be an evening event introducing young female celebrities who will attend as speakers for the evening as well as mentors. Retreat is opened to all girls aged 13-17 in the Los Angeles area. Transportation, food and lodging is free thanks to the generous donation of Warner Springs Ranch ( and Kristin Kreuk. To be selected to attend, follow the directions below.

Answer the following question:

What do you want the world to look like in your lifetime? Send us a project that best expresses your vision of how you can contribute to make the world closer to that vision.

*Please submit your project in either a collage, painting, writing, video, musical c.d., or other multi-media format.

Send entries by February 1st, 2009 to:

Timeout for Teens

11551 Santa Monica Blvd. #401

Los Angeles, CA 90025

(include your full name, daytime phone number, birthdate and email address with entry)
We will select 30 girls and notify winners by telephone no later than February 15th, 2009. A packet with details of the event will be sent to winners via mail.



News Day Tuesday: Men’s Magazines

December 2, 2008

(artist: Patrick Hickey)

Y’all are one intriguing bunch.  Who knew that visitors to a site for Girls by Design would have so much to say about men’s magazines?  😉   So in that spirit, I present to you a study about – you guessed it – men’s magazines.

Jennifer Aubrey of the University of Missouri conducted a series of studies examining how the content of men’s magazines (such as Maxim, FHM and Stuff) affected the self-image of male readers.  In the first study, she examined how exposure to men’s magazines affected body self-consciousness and appearance anxiety among male readers.  What she found was that after a year, reading these magazines led to greater body self-consciousness.  Aubrey was surprised by this result because these magazines weren’t dominated by idealized images of men, but of women.  Since it is unlikely that most men want to look like the women they see in these magazines, she wondered what the reason was for the higher body self-consciousness among male readers.

And so, curious social scientist that she is, Aubrey conducted a second study, along with Laramie Taylor of the University of California-Davis.  This time, the male participants were divided into 3 groups: Group 1 viewed magazine layouts featuring objectified women; Group 2 viewed layouts featuring male fashion, with fit and well-dressed male models; and Group 3 viewed appearance-neutral layouts with topics like technology and film trivia.  What the researchers found was that, as a group, the men who viewed the layouts of objectified females had the most body self-consciousness.  And get this…the group with the least amount of body self-consciousness was the one that viewed the male fashion layouts.

So what to make of this?  Aubrey hypothesized that men ended up feeling like they needed to look as good as the women they saw in men’s magazines in order to have a chance at becoming involved with an attractive woman.

Ever the curious scientists, Aubrey and Taylor conducted a third study to test this theory.  This time, the men were divided into 2 groups: Group 1 viewed magazine layouts with sexually idealized females; Group 2 viewed the same layouts with average-looking “boyfriends” added to the photos, with captions stating that female models are attracted to average-looking men.  What they found was that the men who viewed the layouts with the average-looking boyfriends had less body self-consciousness.  Why?  Maybe because they felt less pressure to conform to certain appearance standards when they saw that the models liked average-looking men.

There have also been a number of studies showing how media images negatively influence women’s body image.  Last year, a study by Laurie Mintz of the University of Missouri-Columbia found that all women – regardless of their size, shape, height or age – were equally negatively affected after seeing models in magazine ads for just 3 minutes.  Another study that came out this past May analyzed previous studies (this is called a meta-analysis) encompassing more than 15,000 subjects, and found that “exposure to media depicting ultra-thin actresses and models significantly increased women’s concerns about their bodies, including how dissatisfied they felt, and their likelihood of engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors, such as excessive dieting.”

What is so interesting about the studies Aubrey and her colleagues conducted is that idealized images of women also seem to negatively affect the way men perceive themselves, even more so than idealized images of men.  What do you all think about that?  Surprised?  Not surprised?  Convinced that you too should study a social science in college?  (I studied sociology in college.  Yay sociology!  Well, that was after a stint with electrical engineering.  Long story.  Let’s just say that circuits and I…we didn’t get along too well.)

And what’s all this about “objectification”?  A lot of the studies and a lot of your comments mentioned that word.  What does it mean to “objectify” something and is it always a bad thing?  Is it possible to have media representations of people that don’t objectify?  For example, many argue that men’s magazines objectify women because they’re presented as sex objects.  What about the paintings and photographs that hang in the most revered museums throughout the world?  When people are portrayed as art, is that objectification or not?  What about when people provide entertainment through acting or music?  Is that objectification?