Body Positivity

May 7, 2019

Why are some people not confident enough in their own skin?

We are told at a young age that we have to be a certain size in order to be attractive, not only girls but young men as well. If you don’t have big muscles or a six pack then they are considered “wimpy”. As for women, if you are not blessed with a tiny waist and petite features, forget about finding a boyfriend anytime soon. We are here to discuss this rather than upsetting social norm. Body Positivity should be discussed more because those who suffer with low self esteem struggle with learning to love themselves.

What is body positivity?

First off, What is body positivity?  Body positivity is a movement or belief that all humans should have a positive image about their body. People need to try and spread this movement because many young people suffer with an eating disorder and low self-esteem.  Having a eating disorder is a mental health issue that mostly affect women between 12 and 35 years of age. Men between 12 and 25 also suffer from this illness. There are three types of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder (Eating Disorder Statistics, National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders). People that often suffer from this often feel “fat” and see themselves as overweight. Their image of their own bodies are also distorted or inaccurate.

Eating disorders go along with body positivity because if you have a difficult time loving your body the way it is now and then you start to form a eating disorder, then it is like you adding more gasoline to fire: it only gets worse.  Not only does society trigger these upsetting illnesses, but even your own family can be part of the problem. There are many cases where people’s families have been at fault for their low self-esteem and confidence with rude comments or straight-up humiliation, making them feel as though an eating disorder is their last resort. It is possible to turn the disorder around and recover, but not many are fortunate enough. Around 20% of eating disorder victims die without treatment (“Eating Disorders Statistics” 2019).

Why is body positivity such a sensitive topic?

Next, the reason we believe Body Positivity is such a sensitive topic is because some people cannot accept the fact that they are beautiful in their own minds. Society has planted an idea inside of young people’s heads that they have to look exactly like the models in photos, otherwise they are not desirable, beautiful, or in general, “not enough” for anyone. Because of this, many people, especially at a young age, cannot accept compliments or recognition at all. Their brains have been wired to reject any type of acknowledgement simply because they are not “the picture in the magazine”. This learned behavior can be dangerous for mental health, and even the ability to communicate and work in the future.

Does social media affect younger people who suffer with body image?

Third, social media has become a big part of our lives. It is a fun way to interact with people, stay in touch with friends, keep an eye on your favorite celebrities, and even……destroy your self-esteem. Nowadays, modeling seems to have taken over our Instagram and Facebook feeds. Everywhere you scroll, there’s always an advertisement for clothing, makeup, even perfume. Chances are, there will be good-looking model advertising the product. When young people see these images, their impressionable minds start to wonder, “Is that what I’m supposed to look like?” It may start out as only a wish, but that wish becomes a craving over time. The more we are subjected to pictures of slender, beautiful women, or tall, muscular men, the more we want to become them.

People tend to worry about their appearance more often, as well as overworking themselves from exercise and be too strict on what they should eat. This type of behaviour is severely unhealthy and can lead to risk of fatigue, torn muscles, and malnutrition. We as a whole need to focus on healthy and responsible ways to improve our appearance if we want, not for the sake of an Instagram photo.

Are girls suffering with body image more than boys are?

Lastly, it’s no surprise that teens suffer with loving themselves for who they are, But it’s no debate on which gender is affected more. As far as our research has shown us, many people have different opinions; blogs and doctors have both said that even though both men and women suffer with not loving their body, Women have been proven to struggle more with body image. Why is this? Society and social media have portrayed women to be these skinny, petite beings. Many women who don’t fall into this category are often criticized and bullied for their shape and size. Curvy and “thick” girls are considered overweight or fat for not being stick-thin. Men are less likely to suffer from low self esteem because they do not necessarily have to look a certain way to be taken seriously. No matter their size or shape, they are not made fun of or ridiculed for being different like women are.

Society seems to think that all that makes up a woman is the way her body looks. Unless she looks like some type of supermodel, she is deemed “not good enough”. What never comes into mind is if she’s a good person or has a nice personality. As for men, it sometimes seems as if it doesn’t really matter if they’re skinny, muscular, etc., they are still considered fine despite their personalities. However, some men who don’t like their bodies may start to workout and exercise a lot, but it is not likely because of the media. Women tend to overwork themselves to maintain an image that is almost entirely not real. The women they aspire to be are most likely heavily Photoshopped to an alien-like state. Their “bodies” are 9 times out of 10, impossible to achieve.

In conclusion, body positivity is a topic that needs to be discussed more often because not many people know how much it can help them. The more you learn to love yourself, the more content you become. People who learn to accept themselves are less likely to have anxiety, depression, or any mental and physical health issues. Spreading more body positivity could eventually help the young generation get through the many problems they experience. Overall, body positivity could help your world as a whole.  

As a closing to this essay, our group members will share our personal experiences and a teacher’s thought/struggles with body positivity.

 

Paris Kirk:  

I have always been chubby and I still am at the age of 17. But I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, I was living in South Carolina and my Nana came and took my siblings and I out to Old Navy. She wanted me to try on a pair of jeans and when she was helping me to see if they fit, she looked at me and said, “Lord child, you are getting fat! You need to lose weight!”, and I was really upset by this. As I grew older, she would come over to my house to see how we were doing and she would always make comments on my weight like, “You have gotten bigger! You need to try and lose weight” or if I stopped eating because I felt like crap about my body at such a young age. She would then say “Oh you have lost weight! You look better!”. During this time I was 8 to 12 years old. I have always been bullied because of my weight and it’s very hard to have a relationship because I have always been told that “No one wants to date a FAT girl” I still have a hard time dealing with loving my body; but I am slowly but surely getting there.

A big question I have is why does it matter what people look like?  How is it impacting your life?  If it’s not harming you, then it should not matter.

 

I asked a teacher about her input on body positivity and this is what she had to say:

“My body unconditionally loves me, and I’m now actively nurturing my unconditional love for it.  I think we, humanity in general, need to do a better job of raising our young people to love themselves. It’s my belief that when you truly love yourself, you can’t hurt yourself and you can’t hurt another person.  When you love yourself, yo u don’t reject yourself and no one else will reject you.  At least, if someone else does reject you, if you love yourself, you won’t even pay attention to their “rejection”, you won’t notice it, so it will be like it didn’t even happen.”  

I’m sorry this is so long, but it’s such an important conversation.  If I could get students to do one thing, it would be this: When given a compliment, don’t argue with it, just say “thank you.”  I told a female student the other day that she was beautiful. She replied, “No, I’m not.” She continued to argue with me about it.  She could not accept that in my eyes, she’s beautiful. Her classmates even agreed with me, and she still would not accept it” (Chrissy Bowles).

Matthew Martin:

When I was a baby I was chubby. As I got older, I lost the weight but couldn’t gain it back. By the age of 8 I weighed about 40 LBS. When I was 12, that’s when I started to gain a lot of weight, I weighed about 80 to 90 LBS, and then I got depressed and lost weight. At the age of 16 I weighed 135 and now I weigh 127 because I lost almost 10 pounds from depression. Now I lost my appetite for eating. When I get hungry I start to eat and get full instantly. One time, it got really bad for me and I didn’t eat for 5 days. This is pretty much what happened to me about a eating disorder. Now I workout and exercise daily to try to get my body the way I want it. Glad I got to tell this to y’all.   

Chloe Hamrick:

I struggle with body positivity mainly because of my height. Since preschool, I have always been bigger than most of the kids. As time passed, my height became more of a problem. I was constantly teased and made fun of by other children, but I never paid mind to it. As I entered middle and high school, my self-esteem plummeted. The teasing got worse, and some kids would either talk to me or to their friends about my height, which made me uncomfortable. People also seemed to assume I was extremely athletic because I’m rather tall. I’ve played sports in the past but gave up quickly. When I tell people I’m not into athletics, their favorite comment to make is, “What a waste!’. Not every tall person you meet is going to be an NBA star, and that should be totally fine!

Another reason I struggle with body positivity is because everyone seems so “scared” of me. Boys have come to me and said that they would not date me because I was taller than them, which hurt my feelings quite a bit. They claimed that it wasn’t cool and it was embarrassing to have a tall girlfriend. Both my mom and my friends say it is because they’re intimidated, but are they really? In that case, everyone must be intimidated by me. No matter where I go, people will whisper (though they think I can’t hear them) or simply stare at me like I’m insane. Girls often brag about the things they are able to do being small whilst I can’t do such as buy in-store clothing, find perfect jeans, or wear dresses without constantly having to tug the hem down.. It felt like my height was never good enough for anyone so I eventually stopped trying. I’ve given up on finding a partner and I’ve stopped talking about my height because I know others will start boasting. I’m fighting to accept myself for who I am, as I can’t change it, but it is so difficult, especially when everyone keeps bringing it up….

Works Cited

“Eating Disorders Statistics.” Mirror Mirror Eating Disorder Help, Mirror-Mirror.org, 2019,  www.mirror-mirror.org/eating-disorders-statistics.htm.

Popsugar Fitness. “7 Ways To Be More Body Positive”https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Spread-Positive-Body-Image-Campaign-40387233

Talkspace. “5 Ways To Improve Your Body Image, Confidence, and Mental Health”https://www.talkspace.com/blog/5-ways-improve-body-image-confidence-mental-health/

W24.com. “We Should Ignore Mainstream Ideals of Beauty”https://www.w24.co.za/Style/Beauty/Why-we-should-ignore-the-medias-ideals-of-beauty-20151009

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Body Positivity”

  1. Rhonda Richardson on May 8th, 2019 8:18 am

    This article is beautifully written and addresses an important topic. I’m so proud of Matthew, Chloe, and Paris for their bravery in telling their personal stories and also of their writing abilities!

  2. Chrissy Bowles on May 8th, 2019 9:19 am

    Wow! I am so very proud of the beautiful authors of this article. This is such an important conversation to have.

    Self-love and self-compassion are very important. It’s not vanity or arrogance to truly appreciate the person that you are. We hear all the time, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, and we wonder why people are mean to each other. As a society, we fling this quote about as an “instruction” on how you’re supposed to treat other people but forget the words “as yourself”. When people are mean to others, it’s truly a reflection of how they feel about themselves.

    So, if you don’t love or appreciate yourself. If you have a lack of compassion for yourself, and you look in the mirror and cringe, consider this as said by Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I speak from experience.

    I want to thank all the teachers in my life that continue to guide me on this journey.

    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” –Rumi

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