The Struggle With Body Image

Faith Rienhart, Writer

    Teens struggle with body image, self love, and self acceptance constantly. The environments, such as high school, the average teen has to go through do not lead to any improvements on the issue. 

     When talking about negative body image there is a direct connection with mental health as both go hand in hand. A disorder known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD, is a psychological disorder where a person misperceives one or more areas of their body. These people see a defect or flaw in their appearance no matter the size or even the existence of it and obsessively target themselves for it. 

    BDD patients as well as others with body image issues want to be “perfect” even if that means developing eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia. These are so prevalent today that there is an extreme growth in concerns about such disorders especially in high school students. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 10 million women and one million men struggle with these eating disorders. 

     Social media and school are two major factors on negative and positive body images. Rather than the problem being just in young girls, boys of the same age also report the same internal struggles. A study was conducted that found more than 11,000 teenagers in school saw themselves as overweight, regardless of what their weight actually was. 

     Many say that photoshopping can lead to unrealistic and unachievable bodies being a figure for what you should look like. Social media and magazines are under fire for promoting such images. Some companies have seen this and made an active decision in creating diversity amongst their models. Stretch marks, realistic stomachs, and other typical “flaws” removed with photoshop are actively chosen to stay in photos. 

      Many celebrities have agreed, deciding that there is no reason to have photos of them that don’t correctly portray them. Jameela Jamil, most famous for her role on NBC’s “The Good Place” posted an edited photo of her saying that it was one of the worst things that constantly happen to women. Her fans and many others agree with her and praise her for promoting such healthy lifestyles.

      Jamil started a page called I Weigh, which has approximately 874k followers climbing at a steady rate. The goal of it is to promote healthy body image and body positivity regardless of what someone views as a flaw. Among many of her influential and well known quotes she says, “I’m ******* tired of seeing women just ignore what’s amazing about them and their lives and their achievements, just because they don’t have a bloody thigh gap”. Her advocacy is prominent and well known as of right now within the body positivity world. She is among the big names fighting an entire industry to portray stronger and realistic images for our youth.

     Reign Hoyt, a Farmington High School student, says “Social media is a big impact because people see “perfect” girls and models and want to be like them, because they are so skinny and stuff; and it puts us down, plus all the weight loss ad and everything affects us too.” The raising awareness among teens is helping, however, being aware of something doesn’t stop it from affecting us. 

       The origin of ‘Body Positivity’ didn’t begin with this issue. In fact, the issue that started the wave of body positivity was the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic. Becoming more accepting and learning to work through struggles that are common were necessary. At the time there was a lot of negative connotations about HIV which led to restrictions of people living with HIV. This can compare to that of the issues today. 

      Today we fight the negative connotations of weight, stretch marks, sizes. We fight the overwhelming belief of men and women needing to fit stereotypes and molds in order to be perfect. An overwhelming belief that if you are flawed you are not beautiful and that it needs to be fixed, or even that it can be fixed. Unrealistic and unfair restrictions are placed this way, whether or not it’s intentional or spoken about. Awareness is now being raised within high schools and on platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.