Many young females today, living in modern society, are brought up with the very vivid idea of “Having the Perfect Body” engraved in their minds. Girls from all across the world are exposed to the toxic concepts of being “skinny”, “tall or short”, “thick but with slim legs”, and many more.
This is called – Being Pretty.
Throughout the decades, different body image stereotypes have arisen to fame, dragging girls and boys of all ages, into a world where we try to fit in and be trendy. This is considered normal and just part of our culture as humans.
Body image stereotypes can be extremely harmful to anyone. Not only do they pressure us to look, or be a certain way, but they can possibly lead to mental health struggles, extreme changes, doubting ourselves, peer pressuring, eating disorders, and suicide. The younger generations are struggling to feel amazing and beautiful in their own skin, even thinking they are ugly or horrible.
A general study that took place, showed that body image is a very impactful and important component of having good self-esteem. The study showed that in the U.S, approximately 80% of women don’t like how they look and just 34% of men are dissatisfied. Even though both genders struggle with disliking their body, women are generally held to a much higher standard of what they should look like (body image stereotypes). However many people are also afraid to speak out on their personal situation since they feel alone and embarrassed.
Also interesting, the study also showed that 70% of normal and healthy weighted women wanted to be thinner. This extends to young people too – over 80% of 10 year olds are afraid of being overweight. By middle school, 50-70% of girls are very dissatisfied with various parts of their bodies. And lastly, over 50% of teen girls and 30% of teen boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking, forced vomiting and taking laxatives. It’s a worldwide issue.
Wanting to have an ideal body isn’t fully our choice. There are so many components that build up in our head over time from the media to the little chemical reactions in our brain. In New Zealand, mental health and eating disorders specialists have done studies showing just over the past few years as social media and more strict body image stereotypes arose, there was over a 30% increase in eating disorders in teens alone.
This stupid comparison game hurts us and makes you feel ugly. SHEQUALITY and I want to help bring more awareness to this issue. As a united world, we need to come together and create awareness and solutions to The Body Image Dilemma. Remind yourself, your family, your friends, anyone, every day that they are beautiful. Now I know it sounds cheesy but we have to start fixing this global problem.
Even being a 13 year old girl living in New Zealand, I still need to keep myself in check, making sure I don’t go down deeper into this rabbit hole of body image and try to focus on climbing out.
I know I’m still young, and when you are young people think you have no clue about what you are talking about, and that you don’t have a voice, but I have been there, and it sucks. You have a voice to speak out about anything you are dealing with.
To anyone reading this who has in the past, is currently, or knows someone who is struggling with feeling pressured to be a different person or going through and mental health struggles, I want you to know, you are perfect.