be true to you Don't let others affect how you see you

In the book Uglies by Scott Grayson, Tally and Shay live in a futuristic world where everyone's main goal is to turn pretty at 16, and until then you are nothing. Everyone strives to have those big beautiful eyes and perfectly smooth hair yet the only way to achieve this is by surgery. Although this book takes place in the future where there are hoverboards and holograms, it is very similar to how we live today. Even those with good self esteem have insecurities, and some people think that only surgery can change them. In the book it is second nature to become pretty and it is advertised that being pretty makes you have the ultimate life. Sadly, even in commercials today, they use models with perfect skin and hair to advertise the product, leading you to believe that if you use it you will look like them. Even when companies, like Dove, try to advertise that everyone is perfect as they are and all body types can sell a product (Sifferlin, Times Magazine), they still use flawless models to trick us. In Uglies, when Shay said, “ weren’t born expecting that kind of beauty in everyone, all the time. You just got programmed into thinking anything else is ugly” (Grayson, 82), we see the reoccurring theme that the media gives us messages about how we should look and feel about ourselves. We were not born thinking that having long legs and shiny hair would make us attractive. Commercials and magazines made us believe that’s what beauty is. The media influences how we view perfection and our body image.

Living in the 21st century we are surrounded by media. Although the internet has allowed us to have endless information and constant communication, it also can lead to many disorders such as anorexia and depression (Lyness, TeensHealth). How can something so helpful cause these horrible things? Well, it all starts with self esteem and body image. The definition of body image is a mental image of how one sees oneself. When people look at social media, they see pictures of beautiful models and start to compare themselves even though most of the time these pictures are airbrushed. This is especially apparent in teenagers. Even model Cameron Russell said during her TedTalk of January 2013, “And I hope what you're seeing is that these pictures are not pictures of me. They are constructions, and they are constructions by a group of professionals...and they build this. That's not me.” (Russell, Ted Talk). The pictures posted on media are superficial and don’t reflect who a person really is. I always knew that pictures online were not completely true to size, but what shocked me was learning about the models’ real lives. Seeing Cameron’s modeled pictures compared to unedited ones taken by her friends just days before the shoot was shocking. While the professional photos show her wearing a sexy bikini, in fact, it was her first time ever wearing a bikini at all. This shows that how people look in the media does not reflect real life.

Sometimes media even affects your work life. During Cameron's Ted Talk she declared, “Unfortunately, after you've gone to school, and you have a résumé and you've done a few jobs, you can't say anything anymore, so if you say you want to be the President of the United States, but your résumé reads, ‘Underwear Model: 10 years,’ people give you a funny look.” This video made me realize that there are two sides to every picture, and again, looks can be deceiving. Similarly, Dara Chadwick in Psychology Today reported, “I tell a story about being invited to speak at a trade association meeting and feeling so uncomfortable with the way I looked that I stumbled through my speech, barely salvaging an opportunity to grow my skills and potentially advance my career.” Its human nature to judge others by their looks. What we don’t realize is that when we do that, it can have serious negative effects on others’ lives. Because this woman was so focused on her looks, she was unable to live up to her full potential. And it doesn't stop there because it even affects celebrities’ ability to do their jobs. The comedian, Amy Schumer, admits in Rolling Stone that if she doesn’t feel confident in what she is wearing, it makes her feel like she just wants to give up comedy (Schumer). Before researching this topic I knew that low self-esteem could lead to disorders, but I never realized that it could even affect celebrities and their jobs.

The Huffington Post

Media isn’t the only thing influencing teens to change. Many times parents and peers will pressure teens to look a certain way. D'Arcy Lyness, Ph.D. from said, “People also may experience negative comments and hurtful teasing about the way they look from classmates and peers. Although these often come from ignorance, sometimes they can affect body image and self-esteem.” When teens feel insecure about their body, it often leads them to take extreme measures to become “perfect.” As I continued my research, other studies appeared that linked low self-esteem to low body image. An article written in said, “A number of studies, conducted across various age groups, have consistently demonstrated... higher self-esteem is linked to a more positive body image, while lower self-esteem is associated with a more negative body image.” Therefore, the people we associate with have a huge influence on our self-esteem which, in turn, can affect our body image. What I took from this is that in order to feel good about myself I have to believe in myself no matter what other people say.

"No one should be comfortable at size 14? I sure the hell am!" -Ashley Graham

When we allow others to influence our body image and self-esteem, it can oftentimes lead to serious problems. We can blame this on the media, or even our parents, but the only one to blame is ourselves. We can’t allow ourselves to fall into being a victim. We must all learn to love ourselves and accept others for who they are. My research has helped me to understand the deeper connections and perspectives of people suffering from low self-esteem. Uglies taught me to go your own way and that being pretty doesn’t mean you will have the best lifestyle. Cameron Russell taught me that there are two sides to every picture and that we can’t always trust the media. Dara Chadwick taught me that if we focus on our imperfections too much, it can keep us from succeeding. D'Arcy Lyness taught me that when we judge others it can have negative effects on them. I have learned that we shouldn’t judge others based on the media, and we shouldn’t change the way we view ourselves because of it. Grayson emphasized this point by saying, “If people were only smarter, evolved enough to treat everyone the same even if they looked different. Looked ugly.” (Grayson, p97). I agree.

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