Young Aussies are living in an adult world far too soon
When three in ten young Australians say they are ‘highly concerned’ with body image, it’s like an assault on my spirit. Anyone familiar with the She’s Empowered brand will know I’m about so much more than just protective clothing for women. My whole personal brand is about ongoing empowerment opportunities for women, and I regularly promote confidence and capability in young women, both within the mining sector and across the STEM faculty in general.
So when Mission Australia’s 2016 report of more than 21,000 youth aged 15 – 19, one of Australia’s biggest surveys into youth culture, echoes my concerns for youth insecurities and inequalities, I find it my duty to share its findings and urge more individuals, parents, schools and government to get behind positive, life-altering initiatives.
Young females this year have reported equity and discrimination as a top national concern. In fact, just over a quarter of young people who responded to the survey indicated they have experienced unfair treatment or discrimination over the past 12 months. Sadly, some of this has to do with physical appearance which can result in isolation and destructive behaviours. Risk factors such as harassment, peer pressure and perfectionism need to be reduced and more positive factors such as self-esteem, social support, healthy eating and respect for diversity need to be increased immediately to combat negative body image.
This report reiterates everything I’ve strived to communicate over the past three years in my business, and far longer in my personal life. I don’t want my nieces to be responding with the same answers when they grow up. I want them to feel like they play an important role in a larger community, to feel respected and included. So how do we turn this around?
I feel education and leading by example is imperative. We need to constantly be showering our young women with examples of what they can achieve, and remind them to believe in themselves. We need to try and minimise the selfie filters and the photo-shopped magazines. We need to encourage women to try their hand at anything that interests them – sport, music, mining, science – it’s all character building.
2017 offers another chance we can make a difference in the lives of young Australians. I am committed to being part of a school program to help empower young women – what will you do to make a difference?