What Does Your Daughter Weigh?

Lean Cuisine came to us about a month ago asking if we would partner with them on their Phenomenal Women campaign, offering us $10,000 towards scholarship support for our Summer Program.

Initially we were grateful and thrilled about the impact this would make on the girls and families for whom tuition wasn’t possible. However, as the campaign unfolded, we discovered opportunities for everyone in our community to practice leadership and engage with the girl in their life using these materials.

If you haven’t seen #WeighThis, it is a powerful piece that highlights the assumption that our value is equated with our weight. After you watch this on your own and have a good cry, consider watching it with the girl in your life. This two-minute piece can be an ideal catalyst for a great talk together.

Your girl is likely to be seeing 3000 – 5000 media images a day (not counting the peer-generated media on social). Those images are sending her a very consistent message about her body: thinness and sexiness equals confidence, and therefore power.

If you want her to possess a healthy body image, it is essential to talk together about the popular culture, your values, and set intentional practices together to build her own relationship with her body. This is especially true if she is going through puberty and putting on the weight (average of 40 lbs*) that goes with that natural process.

When we, understandably, avoid body image conversations, we send the implicit message that her body and our bodies are something to be ashamed of. Here are some possible questions to explore together when you watch #WeighThis:

  1. When the women first see the scale, they first think it is their weight that is going to be measured. Are there people that make you feel like you are constantly being measured and assessed by your size?

This is a great chance for a girl to reflect on the people that make her feel like she is constantly being measured. Often extended family members assess our weight, or peers might talk about this quite a bit. When we don’t reflect on this behavior it can be seen as normal. It is helpful to identify people who are caught up in the regular physical assessment of others. It doesn’t mean they are good or bad, just that they subscribe to a belief system that might not be helping your girl.

  1. If you were to “weigh what matters” as the campaign suggests, what symbol would you weigh? Why? What are you most proud of?

This is a question to simply share and listen. You can go beyond the “re-define beautiful” message, to talking about what matters more than appearances. These are critical conversations to have in a culture that constantly tells girls that their primary value is their looks. If the girl in your life doesn’t have anything she is proud of, this is something to talk about together. What are the skills to practice when trying new things? How do you know that a sport, hobby, instrument, or decision is one that feels right?

  1. One woman is proud of her divorce, while another is proud of staying married. Why might the opposite choice be one that two separate people feel proud of?

Sometimes, especially for those in high school, it can feel like there is a “right” choice that one “should” do, like sticking with a team, a friend, a group, an instrument, or a tough class. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success. We all have to learn to listen to our internal voice, and decide if the relationship, class, team, or activity is worth going through the inevitable challenging times to pursue, or if we aren’t enjoying ourselves because it is unhealthy, or a bad fit for us.

  1. If someone or something is measuring or assessing you in a way that is not aligned with your values, how could you speak up?

Give the girl in your life scripts and permission to set boundaries when she finds herself being “weighed” by others. You can role play with her how to respond when family members give her weight-based praise or criticism, helping her to re-direct the dialogue by using humor, or letting them know how she feels, or by simply asking them not to assess her weight. Does anyone comment on your weight as an adult? Maybe your girl can coach you through a role-play to help set boundaries with this person. We might not be able to control the production of the 3000 – 5000 images that our girls see each day, but we can control how we receive them.

Lastly, do you know some phenomenal women in your life? Show the world what it really means to be phenomenal by recognizing the remarkable women in your life and you could win $10K or a Love with Food Box brought to you by Lean Cuisine​ and Girls Leadership​ NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. U.S. and D.C. 18+. Ends 8/31/15.
To enter and for Official Rules, visit bit.ly/1IrT1ZJ

Just like our #mom2mom Mothers Day post, this is a great opportunity to show the girls in our life how we support other women. Maybe you can work with the girl in your life to craft the message.

Let us know what you think of these two opportunities to engage and connect with the girl in your life, and other women you admire.

Read more from Girls Leadership:

on Parenting     by Simone Marean     on Body Image

  1. Smithe430

    Thanks for the article, is there any way I can receive an email whenever you publish a new update? ccekaedagcegedad

    • Dorothy Ponton, Community Engagement Manager

      Yes, you can subscribe to the RSS Feed and be notified each time we publish. In the lower right portion of the site you’ll find the RSS icon under Contact Us. Also, if you subscribe to our newsletter here, you’ll get our latest Parent Education Videos in your inbox about once a month.

  2. Kelly Berger

    I think this is a great clip and don’t have an issue with it being from Lean Cuisine. The message and role models in the clip are intelligent, sensitive, thoughtful, and positive. Their stories and values shared have nothing to do with personal weight. I feel this clip tells women and girls that it’s their unique values and choices that define them. I find the message consistent with Girl’s Leadership Institute’s mission. This is a good choice, I feel, and the synergy of GLI and this sponsor can be a positive co-supporting move. I hope to take your suggested talking points and view the film with girls and their mothers in my community. It will be interesting hear reactions from both young and old. Thank you.

  3. Lynn

    My daughter is struggling with an anorexic eating disorder. I would love to share this video with her but absolutely cannot because of the lean cuisine sponsor message at the end. It wrecks all that precedes it. Lean Cuisine and the entire diet industry derives profits from women hating our bodies. The final message is, “lose weight.” Nice try.

  4. Kelley

    I could not agree more with previous comments that empowering girls to love there bodies is not aligned with a product that is primarily used for weight loss. It is a conflicting message.

    • Simone Marean

      Thank you all for this great feedback. It is exciting to hear our community of strong voices speak up for their beliefs. This is exactly the kind of personal leadership that we teach our girls. We felt comfortable aligning ourselves with Lean Cuisine because of their messaging around health and wellness. Here is one article about their evolution. “Lean Cuisine Brand Manager Chris Flora called the new approach a “massive pivot” for the 34-year-old brand. Consumers “most closely associate us with being a diet brand,” he said. “But we recognize that diets are dead and we want to show that we are truly shifting away from diet.”

      As the new foodie options hit shelves, Lean Cuisine is launching a TV campaign that seeks to build emotional bonds with female consumers by telling stories about how real women exhibit strength in their everyday lives. The campaign, called “Feed Your Phenomenal,” launches in early July with a spot by Grey (above) that features a delivery nurse in Boston who ends her busy night shift by sitting down to a plate of mac and cheese. She credits Lean Cuisine with helping her “eat the way I want to eat.”

      Curious to hear if you think brands can change.

  5. Michele Smith

    The video conveys a beautiful message. However, I’m now sure how the content relates to Lean Cuisine, which seems to be positioned as a product for weight control. Please help me in explaining this potentially confusing message to my adolescent daughters.

  6. Jose Garcia

    The message is great. The sponsor is confusing. Lean Cuisine is what you eat because you are dieting. Understand that fund raising is challenging but this particular sponsor choice dilutes/confuses the message.

  7. Kim

    Phenomenal message. One I was keen to pass on to all the young girls I know. Until the Lean Cuisine ad. It undermines the entire message. Remove it and I imagine the message will be shared far more widely and effectively.

  8. Janice

    The accomplishments of women and girls are a wonderful way to chart success, on the other hand poor eating habits and lack of exercise for what ever the reason has been shown to shorten your lifespan and lead to serious illness. Accomplishments are good but not at the expense of poor health decisions.

  9. Leslie

    I love the video but my first reaction was that sponsorship by Lean Cuisine sends a very mixed message….in fact the very message you are trying to de-emphasize. Isn’t Lean Cuisine’s message all about losing weight? Ok, now just looked at their web site and I can see that their marketing message seems to have evolved from losing weight to more of a focus on wellness and healthy eating. That’s a good thing for sure, but my historic impression is that they are about weight loss (I have never used Lean Cuisine products and am a “normal” weight.) Thanks for bringing these important issues about body image to light!!

    • Dorothy Ponton, Community Engagement Manager

      You’re welcome, and thank you for contributing to the conversation here! Your reaction is very important to us, and is likely shared by many people.

  10. Namrta

    A very powerful video. Thanks Girls Leadership. I can’t wait to share this with my friends.

    • Dorothy Ponton, Community Engagement Manager

      Glad this felt like something you’d want to share. Curious to see how it goes!


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