This past Sunday, there was a race in Miami that has been the source of much controversy. The Divas 5K Run sounds like it could have been an empowering race for females 8 and older, until you read about the interesting choice of prizes. In each age group, the three prizes for each winner included: Botox for first place, laser hair removal for second place, and laser teeth whitening for third place. In total, the winners received over $11,000 of cosmetic treatments.
Although the 14 and under age group wasn't eligible for the treatments and children between 15 and 19 couldn't win Botox, I'm not sure the age restrictions are all that consoling. There are still 8-year-olds participating in a race that awards its winners with the opportunity to alter their bodies for superficial reasons. I'm not saying that adults shouldn't be allowed to win these procedures, but it certainly shouldn't happen in a run that includes children.
Now that puberty is happening earlier in U.S girls, it is so important for adults to explain to them that the physical changes they may be experiencing are normal. It's hard to teach girls to have a positive body image when they see women, some not much older than themselves, running a 5K in the hopes of winning the chance to change something about their appearance.
Girls, even at young ages, are very self-conscious and we need to be sensitive to this. Years ago, the New York Times ran an article about girls and their perceptions of their bodies. According to data in the article that was cited from the National Eating Disorders Association, 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat and 42 percent of girls in first through third grade want to be thinner.
It is so important to watch what we say and do in front of our kids, because we want to make sure we are promoting high self-esteem and confidence. We need to raise the number of girls who are confident in their appearance and in themselves, not lower the number by promoting cosmetic treatments at a 5K.
The most disappointing thing about this race is that it could have been a way to show girls how to relieve stress in a healthy way and be fit and active. Instead, the race did nothing to empower these girls. In the future, the organizers need to either leave the kids out or change the prizes.