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Shining the Light on Body Image for Girls in NC

May 31, 2011

RALEIGH, N.C. - With warm weather come the shedding of layers and exposure to the societal pressure to be thin. It's an expectation that can weigh particularly heavily on young girls. Today wraps up Mental Health Month, and Tracy Foust, author of the new book "Nowhere Near Normal," says one aspect of mental health that needs more attention is the unhealthy marketing messages directed at girls and young women.

Foust's book chronicles her own experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety and depression. She spent her childhood obsessed with the way her appearance was perceived by others, and she's concerned about all the body image products marketed to girls and young women.

"There's no reason why you have to market anything for a young person to target the way that they look. It's absolute nonsense because they're worried about that already."

Foust says parents should spend time enriching their daughters' minds, rather than focusing on their images.

Taking girls to spa parties or, in more extreme cases, offering them Botox, raises alarms for Foust.

"They'll always have a time to do stuff like that. I think that parents should constantly enforce things have to go into your head instead of going into your body."

According to the NYU Child Study Center, roughly one million children and adolescents suffer from OCD. Treating children with the disorder involves therapy, and in some cases, medication.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC