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Why We're Still Talking About Body Image

RDS

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So how can this false sense of security be addressed?
Struggling with body image has almost become a rite of passage for women in America. Rather than promoting the virtues of kindness, intelligence, and responsibility, society pushes us to have skinny arms, thigh gaps, and a rounder butt. Advertising campaigns spend millions to convince us that there is always something wrong with us, even when the doctor tells us that we are completely healthy.
One of my friends laments the hour it takes her to get ready in the morning, wishing she could just start her day without the hassle of straightening her hair and putting on makeup. She is hardly alone; the Renfrew Center Foundation, a nonprofit organization for the treatment of eating disorders, found that nearly half of American women have negative feelings about their appearance without makeup on.
Makeup can be a fun and artistic way to express oneself, but it is tragic when so many women are unable to leave the house barefaced because they feel that who they are naturally is not worthy enough to present to the world.
Why We're Still Talking About Body Image
 

MaggieD

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So how can this false sense of security be addressed? Why We're Still Talking About Body Image

IMO, it starts with children.

  • 20% of teens are either "rarely" or "never" happy with their body image
  • Over half of all teens (52%) feel that the media pressures them to change their body image
  • 73% of teens feel their appearance affects their body image
  • 65% of teens are afraid of gaining weight
  • 44% of teens skip meals as a tactic to losing or controlling weight
  • 31% of teens have been on a diet in the last six months
  • 31% of teens have at least one body part on which they would like to get surgery
  • 56% of teens feel that the media's advertisements are the main cause of low self-esteem

Perhaps we should listen to teens and find a way to counter media perception.

Statistics on High School Students and Teens
 

lizzie

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I'm not sure that it can be addressed. Advertisements and popular images are what young women pay attention to. We are competitive by nature, and whatever is pushed by media, and by peers, is what is going to be heeded by them.
 

MaggieD

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I'm not sure that it can be addressed. Advertisements and popular images are what young women pay attention to. We are competitive by nature, and whatever is pushed by media, and by peers, is what is going to be heeded by them.

I have always thought that the fashion industry must be run by homosexual men. *shrug* They continually try to make beautiful women look like boys. Taking away their curves? Of utmost importance.
 

lizzie

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I have always thought that the fashion industry must be run by homosexual men. *shrug* They continually try to make beautiful women look like boys. Taking away their curves? Of utmost importance.

Yeah, interesting you mention that. I was in a store today, looking at some jeans, and they actually make jeans to accentuate curves now. I said a little *hallelujah* to myself that maybe there are actually some people who appreciate curves on a woman. I can identify with those young girls, though. When I was young, I was obsessed about being pencil-thin too. Nowadays, I love my curves, but it took me a long time to get there. :mrgreen:
 

Hard Truth

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So how can this false sense of security be addressed? Why We're Still Talking About Body Image

This issue is just one more reason why parents and schools need to teach media literacy to children. Few parents are prepared to do it, so it is essential that it happens in school also. We need to teach kids how to tell when they are being manipulated, how to differentiate between good and bad information, and to not believe advertising and other propaganda.
 

Guy Incognito

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I have always thought that the fashion industry must be run by homosexual men. *shrug* They continually try to make beautiful women look like boys. Taking away their curves? Of utmost importance.

What a despicably homophobic stereotype.
 

RDS

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Maybe they think that the elusive Prince Charming has high expectations.
 

MaggieD

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What a despicably homophobic stereotype.

I got to thinking about this . . . and wonder why you think it's despicable. Maybe because I used "boys?" That was unfortunate. I should have used the word young men.
 

opendebate

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So how can this false sense of security be addressed? Why We're Still Talking About Body Image

Wow, I swear I was just thinking of starting a thread like this last night. This is a sad state of affairs. Young women forcing themselves to throw up, getting plastic surgery as teenagers, hating themselves because they are not pretty enough etc. We have pressure as young girls from paint brushed images of women that set the bar somewhere no one can ever actually reach so we all feel like failures all the time.

To make matters even worse men think that they are not successful unless they a perfect supermodel on their arm. They don't seem to realize until they get a little older that women don't really look like that. By then, all the women are bitter and heartbroken because they've never felt good enough and the men resent them because they are bitter and heartbroken. Lovely.

If you are lucky as you get older you see past the crap and don't get entangled in it but it still affects you. As a woman you can keep it at arms length but it is always present to some extent. And as you become an older women a whole different battle can start.
 

opendebate

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This issue is just one more reason why parents and schools need to teach media literacy to children. Few parents are prepared to do it, so it is essential that it happens in school also. We need to teach kids how to tell when they are being manipulated, how to differentiate between good and bad information, and to not believe advertising and other propaganda.

The parents have to get it first. I don't know how many people actually see this issue clearly.
 

joG

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I have always thought that the fashion industry must be run by homosexual men. *shrug* They continually try to make beautiful women look like boys. Taking away their curves? Of utmost importance.

I thought they try to make boys look like beautiful women.
 

RDS

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It would certainly save a lot of money if we didn't use all that cosmetic stuff and fashion. I wonder, what we would buy instead.

But they want to keep up with the joneses.
 

SmokeAndMirrors

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I'm not sure that it can be addressed. Advertisements and popular images are what young women pay attention to. We are competitive by nature, and whatever is pushed by media, and by peers, is what is going to be heeded by them.

You missed something.

Parents.

This, I think, is how I escaped it almost entirely. I have never had a serious body image issue in my entire life.

My father was the barricade standing between me and the rest of the world -- including my own mother, who, with her own body issues, could have done tremendous damage to my self-image.

The interesting thing is that we didn't talk about it much. Rather, we spent all our time talking about what I was thinking. If I had a talent, it was acknowledged. If I had a question, it was answered.

We practically never talked about what I looked like, or what I "should" look like.

I never got any speeches about loving myself, or why I should hate myself. My looks were treated as peripheral -- kind of unimportant. Not worth talking about. I had all this stuff going on in my brain, so why would we spend time talking about my body?

I heard all kinds of things growing up. As a kid, I got teased about my glasses, my wild hair, and my chubby face in my baby fat years. From my mother, I heard my smile was crooked, that I should suck in my stomach, that I don't primp enough, that no man will love a woman who doesn't dress feminine, and that since I was a tomboy, I must be a lesbian, and that was a bad thing.

But none of it stuck.

And the reason it didn't stick is because all of my self-worth had been planted in my mind, and my mind alone. I simply didn't care about any of the things people said to me.

When people said things like that to me, even when I was in elementary school, I recognized it immediately for what it was: an expression of their own hatred of themselves, projected onto me.

I'm not going to say it completely didn't bother me. No one likes to be insulted. But I never considered it to be a problem with me. It was a problem with them.

I won't say I got out of it completely scott-free. I took the damage in my own way -- mostly that I tried to hide my looks for several years of my teens. But my damage was a tiny dent compared to the total car-crash that most of my female peers took.

My father was kind of a clumsy parent in a lot of ways. But the older I get, the more I appreciate the stuff he did right without even knowing it.

Most women I know are still struggling with this in a big way. I'm not, and I never did. What a gift.
 

RDS

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Beauty peer pressure has to be blamed. More common among teens but many adults are also influenced by their peers.
 

iangb

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Relevant:



The video goes further than mere self-image, but is a good (if biased, obviously - it's from an organisation with a mission) watch.

The tl;dr version is here:

 
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tacomancer

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I am like most guys who are a lot more tolerant of various body shapes than seemingly most women are.

It saddens me that a lot of people feel this way about themselves actually, we are so unrealistic about so many things in this country with our unattainable ideals that often cause nothing but disappointment.

Ladies, most of you are hotter than you think you are :)
 

Aunt Spiker

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So how can this false sense of security be addressed? Why We're Still Talking About Body Image

I wouldn't know, I never fell victim to all of that. There's a part of me that cares what others *think* of me but I don't care enough to *act* on it. Like - eh, I'd like for you to think I'm beautiful but - oh well.

Ultimately, the person hears ___ and sees ___ and comes to agree that ___ is beautiful/appropriate/desired and they care enough to act on it.
 

csbrown28

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IMO, it starts with children.



Perhaps we should listen to teens and find a way to counter media perception.

Statistics on High School Students and Teens

I'm a parent of two girls, 10 and 11. I'm more than familiar with the statistics you cite, but I think that's only part of the story, a very important and relevant part mind you, but I think there is another side. Tell you children that you love them, that they are intelligent and that you are proud of them. Over and over again.....

I take time with them, I talk to them like I would talk to other adults and engage them.

My theory is that if I can make my girls believe and feel (what is true) that they are beautiful and smart and loved, they won't have emotional holes to fill inside them, because their mother and I have filled them with love, and caring and a sense that they are valuable.

If I had a larger family in the area I would try to work with my larger family and do the same for my brothers kids and he for mine.

I think these kinds of actions would go a long way to helping deal with the emotional emptiness that so many kids feel because their parents don't understand (or have forgotten) what it is that kids and adolescents need.
 
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