This fall I have been so blessed to co-facilitate a small group for high school girls, called Voices, with one of the pastors at my church (she's one of the most graceful and passionate feminists I know).  In a group of about 12 total, we've tackled topics like the treatment of women in politics, patriarchy in the Bible, and body image.  The idea behind the name is that as women, we are reclaiming our voices of power.

One meeting we made a collage of "the media's ideal woman" with images from each of our favorite magazines.  Here's the end result:

Here are a few thing we noticed during our discussion afterwards:
-almost all the women have their mouths open, indicating a gesture of submission
-almost all the women are white and very skinny
-articles on how to "hide the crazy" reinforce that women can only have a certain range of acceptable emotions
-every single woman is showing skin to a certain degree; it is not attractive to be fully covered
-most women are in their twenties or thirties, few are older
-desire for material things is encouraged over intelligence
-articles on things like "how to shave your legs" indicate that women can't even do the simplest of tasks without advice
-in general, sexuality is the most commonly used tool to sell products

Studies have shown that women's and girl's self esteem drops dramatically after reading a magazine.  It's a perfect storm for advertisers - if they can convince us that we're not good enough on our own, then we are much more likely to buy their product in order to "improve ourselves".

I've talked to plenty of people that simply don't understand why I feel so passionately about changing the culture of oppression we are all surrounded by, so I am incredibly grateful and proud of my church for supporting what is (sadly) still thought of by some as a nonsense movement.  Our pastors preach self-love and love of others, for exactly who we are with no conditions.  For an institution that has historically brought in followers by convincing people they're not good enough without church in their lives, it amazes me on a daily basis that my church community not only embraces my call to end oppression for women, but celebrates it.

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