The Spark of a movement

photo from Spark website

At least 5 times a day I read or see something that makes me think to myself: this would make an interesting blog post.

A few years ago I’d just sit down and write it up.   Lately I’m more likely to forget think about it (and ultimately skip it) or maybe post something on Facebook that someone else wrote.  But today I read something; and I decided to do what I used to do more often—without thinking.

What I read about is called  Spark; an activist movement organized by teenage girls.  Their mission is to to demand an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media—and to support the development of  girls’ healthy sexuality and self-esteem.

Recently members of Spark met with representatives of Seventeen and Teen Vogue, popular magazines aimed at their age group—and also demonstrated against the use of air-brushing.    Here’s more on what happened.

The bottom line is that it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing normal-looking girls in the magazines anytime soon.

It’s not earth shattering news but it’s pretty confounding considering a study that shows 75% of girls  feel depressed about themselves after just a few minutes glancing through a fashion magazine—  75% of women my age feel depressed about themselves without even opening it.

The Spark girls are already making some progress.  To me, what’s even more important than tangible results is the movement itself.

We’re living in a world with values so skewed that  80% of fourth grade girls have been on a fad diet;  that teenage girls are more afraid of being fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer or losing their parents.

So how incredibly  inspiring to see teenage girls taking a stand and taking on the fashion world.

It’s equally inspiring to think about their parents.  Whenever and wherever you live, raising teenage girls can be…..let’s just say challenging.  And raising a daughter with a healthy self image can be way beyond challenging when eating disorders are skyrocketing and self esteem is plummeting.  So I salute  the parents of Spark-ly daughters—- for presumably raising them to not only believe in their own power to light a spark that can change things; but to believe in themselves.


  1. Lupi Robinson says:

    Just stop buying the magazines, ladies. Expand your interests beyond fashion and style. There are more worthwhile things to focus on and to read about. The world of style has always been superficial and phony. It’s not going to change because you’ve just noticed that.

    • But Lupi, it’s more than just the magazines. The images are everywhere – tv, movies, department stores. I applaud these teens.

    • Have to say, Lupi, I agree with Debbie; it’s way beyond the magazines, it’s everywhere. No teenage girl—no one—can escape the bombardment of images and what’s considered “beautiful” — girls who aren’t even reading magazines yet are already dieting. People (me included) are always going to be interested in style—however superficial it might be and I think it’s irresponsible to promote images that aren’t just superficial but unreal and unhealthy. Granted this is a gargantuan issue to take on but I really admire the Spark girls for their spunk. Thanks so much to both of you for commenting—

  2. Morning Darryle!! You might know I’m responsible for raising 4 dynamic, and pretty remarkable young women, raising them in our Carmel, on an artist’s meager budget, as a single Mom, without any tangible help from their father. Our unique estrogen-filled family was a grateful community steeped in hard work, real intention, group communicative effort, and devoted daily to each other’s independent aspirations and heartfelt longings. They were teenagers of course, with all the trappings of social pressures, our challenging affluent surroundings, and the quintessential questions of what would ultimately define them. The best lesson we mothers can give our daughters, from their first early steps, is one of strength of character. If we steep them long enough in who they ARE, then the questions about how they LOOK are less valuable. There will always be billboards and magazines and television and film. There is no avoiding media today. If we teach them it’s in the DOING where their significance lies, then it’s no matter how they might appear. If they are loved, and love, and surrounded by those who love them, for what they do, and for who they are within, then, doesn’t it stand to reason, that this love radiates? This surely has been evident watching my girls grow, and now watching them have their own happy children. Brava to the girls marching , but I say, it starts with our babies. And it doesn’t stop when they are 9 or 10 and shut their bedroom doors. It’s about communicating, and being healthy within an open and generous family. Even a broken family can raise productive, very well adjusted and blissful women. Of all celebrated shapes and sizes. Forward Ho!! xxx

  3. Janet, thanks so much for such thoughtful words and insights. I hope you know I really admire you not just as an artist but as a human being and as a mom—I agree that so much of what they learn comes from their parents; or parent, but their awareness of popular culture starts earlier than ever and I just don’t think the average teenage girl has the maturity to process what she supposed to look like according to the media vs. what she actually looks like—to find that balance and value who they ARE rather than how they appear. I think that’s a struggle for women no matter how old they are.
    If all girls had moms as wise as you (not to mention your GENES) maybe there would be no need for anything like Spark. xxxooo

  4. D- You are adorable. And like you mentioned, everything we absorb is processed in our early years. If we are told how beautiful, insightful, intelligent, creative, empowered, strong, capable, and talented we are as children, the idea of what we look like, our hair, teeth, weight, eye color, breast size, height, eyebrow shape, would have no real significance. It would play a role as we grow and determine our image of ourself, but it would play a small role, and one that would be secondary to what we learn, and feel and consider and give away to others. Too much weight has been placed on the self in our current culture, and hence, in my opinion, the reason for it’s decline. If we gave more consideration to helping others, sacrificing for others, reaching out our hands to others, the obsession with the “I” would be insignificant. As would the cosmetic and diet industry. We are here to help and give aide and assist those who are less fortunate. That is the essence of the human intention. The heart that “gets’ that, is one that doesn’t consider outer beauty. The beauty they see and radiate is unexplainable. That is what every daughter , every child should be taught. “Grace”. (one Mom’s opinion!) Love you Sister!! Still must get darling Nancy up this way!! xxx

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