Disclaimer---kind of: I feel a teensy bit like a hypocrite for writing this because I struggle every day but I'm going to write it anyway. This isn't meant to say that I'm super awesome and love myself always and never struggle. It's actually because I struggle that I'm super passionate about issues like this.
The Body Image Issue
I wrote an essay this week on body image and how the media affects this issue and a lot of what drove me to choose that topic is based on my own personal experiences mixed with my anger toward some of the things I've seen in the media lately.
Let's get real, friends. The media does, absolutely does, affect our world! Everywhere we look, we see images of flawless, stick-thin women and toned, athletic men. What are our children going to grow up thinking about themselves if we don't take a stand and teach them of their worth from a young age?
I know it gets hard. I know most of the things parents say are out of love but please promise me or yourself or your children something today. Never ever ever ever EVER comment on your child's body size to them. Never. Because they already get that from the media. They will already struggle with whether they are perfect enough or worthy enough for their dream guy/girl to run with them into the sunset and live happily ever after. I can assure you they will worry about it. What they need from us is to teach them that the media is WRONG. What they need are people to fight against the model-like body type that probably 2% of women can actually attain and celebrate who they are for who they are.
In an article I recently read, it stated that "body dissatisfaction manifests throughout the
lifespan with girls as young as nine years of age desiring to lose weight." source NINE YEARS OLD, friends. I was 9 years old in the 3rd grade and actually, I mentioned weeks ago in my Eating Disorder Awareness post that I was dissatisfied with my body at age 6. I distinctly remember it and it wasn't fun...and it still isn't fun.
''For the modern woman, being thin is the
ultimate form of perfection, the kind of personal control
required to become the new Superwoman parallels the single-mindedness that
characterizes the anorectic" source
I’ve witnessed some pretty appalling commercials
and advertisements in my adulthood; advertisements for shoes that sexualize
women, advertisements for hair products that sexualize women, advertisements
for jewelry that sexualize women, etc. In each of these commercials, I have
recognized a similar trend of a half-naked woman with a flawless body. I grew
up watching these things on television and having this idea in my mind that
thin would make me wanted and beautiful and worth something. For teen girls and
women, this is a dangerous cycle and for teen boys and men, this is a
detrimental view of what women should be. Men are being raised to see images in
the media of perfection and not very many women are able to attain that
perfection men might desire. For women, this creates a serious eating disorder
problem. For men, this creates a serious pornography problem. The life we all
want to obtain is demoralized by the things we have become insensitive to on
our televisions and through the internet.
One of the key
factors in body image is the depression so many adolescents face because of the
stigma that being thin is the best thing you can be. This creates a pressure on
our youth that many of them will carry well into adulthood. “A young woman
between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four years has a 7 percent chance of
being as thin as a catwalk model and a 1 percent chance of being as thin as a
supermodel. Models and many actresses are abnormally thin, but teenage girls
who are not thin may view these images and believe that something is wrong with
them.” source How do we change this ideological behavior? When will enough be enough?
Most of us would agree that we want our children, our peers, and ourselves to
love who we are for what we are but how do we change the world’s stigma of
“thin is in”? We can start by advocating for real women in magazines and
teaching our children and friends about these distorted images. We can also
start by accepting the people around us, no matter their looks. We need to
throw away the ideas in our minds about body image and start accepting who we
are for what we are. This comes easier for some than it does for others. A lot
of women already struggle with eating disorders because of the massive amounts
of pressure they get from the media about being thin. We are bombarded daily
with commercials, advertisements, billboards, and many other types of media
influences that we are having to fight constantly.
There is one commercial in particular that I've had the unfortunate opportunity to watch and ponder. You all know what Reebok is, right? You know, that shoe company...the shoe company that sells shoes...that shoe company that sells shoes and apparently sex, all in the same commercial! Friends, if you'd like to look up the Miranda Kerr Reebok commercial on your own, feel free. I can almost assure you that you won't be happy with it. And if you find yourself unhappy with it, I'd be really happy to help you stand against this type of thing with me! I have already emailed them, tweeted them, and Facebooked them and since I put links on each of those phrases, feel free to send them your own opinions as well. We need Reebok to know that their shoes can sell without sexualizing women. They are shoes! What in the heck do shoes have to do with sex?!
It's a sad world we live in when advertisers of all types are using sex to sell their products. Hmm, shouldn't your product be good enough as is?
The effect the media has on body image is scary and sad but we can fight! We can fight against commercials that are distasteful. We can fight against the very thoughts in our heads that tell us we aren't good enough. We can fight for our children and future generations!
Let's not allow the media to define who we should be.
Let's try so so so SO hard to be good enough as is.
We are enough. We have always been enough.