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Body Image

How Media Affects My Body Image

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A young dark haired lady with a grey sweater smiling, while standing outside of a tall building.
Nashville, TN

I used to have an issue with my eyebrows because they are quite large. I also used to think my nose was obnoxiously large. I think a lot of that comes from Western beauty standards which played into my body image issues when I was younger.

I always wanted to match the Western beauty standard of pin-straight, blond hair. My hair was another thing because I thought it was so thick and frizzy.

I now embrace those as things that are unique to me.  Apparently, now having large eyebrows are a huge trend so I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I think it’s cool to even think about the process of learning to love the things that you used to hate about yourself.

Media is definitely a huge influence on body image. It influences our thoughts every day and creates beauty standards that sometimes are ‘simply’ unattainable. Young people are constantly deconstructing what the media is telling them through advertising that when their bodies do not meet beauty standards, they feel that they are not good enough.

It is an ingrained belief system reinforced so deeply by mass media these days that it is so hard for young people to break from it.

When it’s surrounding you, it’s kind of like the whole fish in water thing—you don’t really notice it’s actually influencing you. Even now, I have to work to stop myself from thinking: ‘oh, this person is pretty just because she’s white.’ Strange thoughts like that are easy to run on my mind all day long.

As far as impacting me mentally, it’s really interesting to think that I used to look at other people who looked like me and think of them as ‘ugly.’ I guess it shows that I had really low-self-esteem when I was younger. Now I think everyone is beautiful!

I think it’s hard now to talk about body image impacting me negatively because I’ve grown to love my body a lot more.

I definitely thought it would take me way longer because social media really does not help. If anything, it makes things worse.  In high school, I used to get obsessed with those Pinterest boards and Tumblrs where I would see image after image of stick-thin girls and workouts.

I did have this one friend in high school who struggled with anorexia, and that was something that I was wary about for myself because I was alongside her in witnessing her struggling with that. It was hard for me to see her go through that. But I feel proud that I was able to help her a lot as a friend just by being there for her when she needed me.

There is no shame in reaching out to someone. I have to remind myself of that a lot of the times too.

If you’re struggling with body image issues, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not going to be a sudden ‘ah, yes I’m all better!’ You don’t need to put that much pressure on yourself to have an ideal body image because there is none.

Make sure to remind yourself that it’s okay to sometimes have bad days. It’s a process. Remember to take it easy.

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Body Image

How I Strive to Become a Better Version of Myself

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A girl standing and smiling in front of a blue wall wearing a white shirt and red headband.
Killingworth, CT

I’m most insecure about my stomach because every time I eat, I feel like it looks a lot bigger. It feels uncomfortable and looks weird to me, compared to the perfect bodies we see through the media, all day every day.

We are conditioned to believe that the standards we see in the media are what we should strive for in real life, no matter how unattainable they really are. This creates expectations that are extremely difficult to meet in people’s perspectives of themselves, but also in how they expect others to be or look like.

Social media makes us constantly compare ourselves to everyone. It makes us feel jealous and inferior to models that have perfectly thin bodies.

It starts to make us even feel worse about ourselves because of the way everyday people try to put out the best image of themselves as possible even if it’s fake like photoshopped or edited with an app.

Constantly seeing perfect people, living perfect lives, that people show off on social media, have an impact on the way people see themselves and others, and ultimately how they live their lives.

When my body is in better shape, I feel much more confident and my self-esteem is higher. But when I’m not in good shape, I feel a lot worse about myself.

When I make an effort to start eating better and working out regularly, I feel better not only physically, but mentally and emotionally in the way that I see myself. But during times where I’m not motivated about my health, I’m a lot more self-conscious and down on myself.

I wish I could just be light without having to worry about what I eat. At the end of the day, eating healthy and working out makes me feel better about myself, and it’s how I try to cope with my insecurities when I’m not feeling great about my body.

You should learn to love your body for your own self, and not because society stereotypically says you should.

You should not try to live your life trying to be someone you wish you could be, but rather strive to become a better version of your own self.

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Body Image

How I Improved My Perception of My Body

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A girl with dark hair, wearing a blue jacket and white shirt, sitting down, smiling
Monroe, CT

I think high school was where everyone started having insecurities. High school is a very challenging place for most people, including myself. I was taller than most of the girls at school so it was already difficult for me to fit in.

Thinking about it now, I always perceived myself as bigger than the other girls when really I wasn’t. I used to have insecurities with my legs and stomach. I thought I was just on the chubby side, but I was really just taller.

I just had no idea what my body was doing to me at the time. I’d just tell myself that I would just start being healthy and watch what I eat. I ended up not eating at all.

That spiraled out of control to the point where I ended up being anorexic. It just got out of control for the most part.

While I was going through that, I still thought I was bigger than other girls. When people talk about body image issues, it is always perceived as being overweight or eating too much.

Anorexia is not being talked about when it comes to these types of issues and I think it should be. I did end up going to therapy for about two years and that helped a lot.

My therapist was also a nutritionist, so she showed me what healthy things to eat without starving myself. She showed me I could eat and that I did not have to starve myself.

She also taught me to take better care of myself such as working out and meditating. I needed that more than anything.

We aren’t meant to look alike. It doesn’t really matter what you look like, but it matters how you feel about yourself. Your perception of your body comes first.

When I was growing up, social media wasn’t as popular as it is now. I would say social media definitely plays a huge role when it comes to body image issues and insecurities in general.

Seeing all these Instagram models showing their perfect bodies really takes a toll on young peoples’ body images.

Whether I gain weight or lose weight, it is okay at the end of the day because that’s not what’s important in life. What’s important is how I am to reach happiness in life.

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Body Image

How My Body Image Is Shaped by My Positive Mindset

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A young brunette girl wearing a dark long sleeved shirt smiling, while walking in nature.
New York

I think that body image has affected me emotionally. As we all know, the media portrays unrealistic bodies and women edited down until they aren’t really like real people. Young girls are affected and compare themselves to all those fake people. Even if they look at realistic photos as well, the fake ones stay in the back of their minds.I’ve done it too—looking in the mirror and pinpointing all of the things I hate about myself, but people say,” data-lasso-id=”837″>yourself of that as often as you can. I think we are taught to nitpick everything about ourselves because society tells us to.

Your friends affect your body confidence as well. I have really great friends who boost my confidence and mindset by saying that I look good. They make me feel good about myself.

Someone you genuinely care about telling you, “you look really nice,” can help keep a positive mindset. Surround yourself with those people who boost you up.

There are also people surrounded by friends that push them down. I think that negativity affects body image because you think that if somebody else thinks it, it must be true.

To add on, I did research about this in my junior year of high school. I wrote a 12-page paper about the representation of women in the advertising world. The main thing causing such negative body image is how people are photoshopped to look unrealistic on social media. It’s an important issue and I think a lot needs to change to be where we should be in the future.

Instagram is a major part of the problem. Posting photos of yourself and photos portraying a life that isn’t necessarily real is causing others to compare themselves to you. It is this never-ending cycle of girls comparing themselves to each other. It’s a big issue.

Though there has been a lot of ignorance on the subject, I think people don’t realize that companies are going in the right direction. For example, the company called Aerie, stopped retouching their ads, though they still choose certain types of girls.

Even the company, Eileen Fisher, focuses on older women who are living their lives with success and are smart and powerful; I think that’s really nice to see.

Teach yourself every day to look in the mirror and say ‘this is what I love about my body’ rather than this is what I don’t like about it.’

My favorite part of my body is my arms, and I’ve always really liked having freckles. I used to have more of them and I actually miss them. My arms also have my freckles, so I think that’s why I like them.

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