As an American society we are constantly being pounded with media. It is in front of us, on our laps and in our pockets. The problem with this is that we are provided with examples of what to buy, how to live, how to treat others and one of the most important, how we should look. Although this is difficult pressure for all of America, I believe that this pressure is increased for the high school population. This portion of our country is trying to find out who they are and are seriously susceptible to the media messages that are surrounding all of us. Teenagers frequently are being told what beautiful is, and this beautiful is something only attainable to a miniscule portion of the population.
This leaves the rest of us on the outside, with the terrible belief that whatever we have isn’t beauty. Body image can be a problem for both boys and girls, but I’m going to focus on how it affects teenage girls in particular because that’s the experience I have lived.
It truly is everywhere. On television, the pretty, thin girls play the love interest. They are the leading ladies that we root for and, quite honestly, wish we were more like. The non-supermodel girls
are typically the ones that play the quirky best friend. Sometimes they will get the leading lady role. However, this is just about always in a comedy or a story about how the boy looked past how the girl
looked on the outside. So what’s that supposed to tell us? Our only hope of that dream guy falling for us is that he may somehow choose our plainness over the other girl’s beauty? Basically, this is just
reinforcing the idea that we are not beautiful.
In a similar manner, the fashion world has plus-sized models. These women, despite their beauty, are placed into a separate group from the other beautiful women. So separate, that they need to have their own magazines and stores. I don’t know about you, but when I walk through a mall I only see stores with skinny girls advertising clothing. It is rare that I see a store that has plus-sized models. This is once again showing teenagers the correct way to look.
I can clearly see how this is affecting the girls at Hanover High School. I frequently hear girls complaining about their (perfectly healthy) weight. Even more, I see girls questioning why they can’t look like someone else. From personal experience I can say that seeing oneself as inferior to the next girl is one of the worst and most painful ways to lower your own self-esteem. I can remember this feeling. It gives a deep pain in the back of your stomach that lasts all day. All day, through the hunger from refusing to eat lunch and it later accompanies the overwhelming guilt when lunch is made up for
with after school snacks.
This needs to stop and this can be stopped, thanks to plus-sized model Robyn Lawley, who is breaking many barriers by being the first curvy model to appear in several major magazines such as Vogue, GQ, and Elle. Through her work and that of several other models, including Mia Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith singer Steven and actress Liv), the media can perhaps one day change to show that there is more than one kind of beauty.
Until that day, it is up to us teenage girls to fight against these predetermined definitions of beauty. If there is anything certain about beauty it is that it is subjective. No one has the right, or the true ability to rate the way we look. That job is up to ourselves. We need to have faith that we are absolutely, unquestionably, utterly,
stunning, because we are. I promise.