High school. A place filled with bullying and insecurity. A place that only cares about your image, your body image. Aimee Finecky, the school nerd; Sutter Keely the popular kid, and an alcoholic. Sutter first encountered Aimee when he awoke in her yard, drunk. He looked at her like never before, beautiful. The Spectacular Now is a book filled with the perceptions that women are only thought of and judged by their image. Teenage girls are constantly under the thought that they have to look good; look presentable. However, most of the success you get is by being okay with the way you are and pursuing your dreams.
My first encounter with the issue of body image is when I entered ninth grade, this year. My first day of high school, I walk in the enormous double doors and I saw so many people; people with pink hair, people with all black clothes, I saw people dressed as if they owned the world. I was so overwhelmed, so much to learn and do; yet, I was so far away. There was so much diversity in one room. All their images were based on their idea of acceptance. Their idea of how they should look and act. I remember when I was partnered with another girl in my science class; not someone I knew, someone that I wouldn’t choose to be with. A girl so different from the rest, she was not wearing Brandy Melville, her hair was a extremely frizzy it almost looked like a bird’s nest, her makeup was messy, and she didn’t care. She was so different from the rest of the girls in class; including me. She knew that she was different, and she took advantage of it. She made herself the way she wanted to be. Although, there was one part of her that she wanted to cover up; she had a mole on her chin. I caught a glimpse of it under the mountain of concealer. That was her flaw. In the Dove commercial, it states, “You are more beautiful than you think,” (Dove). To me, this girl was gorgeous, her hair was dirty blonde, she was thin, but not too thin, and she had no flaws. If she didn’t cover up that mole, I don’t think I would have noticed it because she was so pretty. This goes to show that you might not think highly of yourself, but that doesn’t mean other people don’t think highly of you. Body image is more than just an opinion. I wonder if it’s a common issue throughout teens?
Am I fat? Do I look weird in these jeans? These questions are what an average teenager thinks about: her body. Although my experience was limited, I think that the only thing that ran through this girl's mind was: is my mole showing? Today, the ads that are splattered on billboards categorize women as objects; nothing more than candy to the eye. The stress of being exactly “like her” is a common thought that teenagers feel. Sometimes, girls feel they have no meaning in life because they are not like the others. In the Spectacular Now, Aimee Finecky thinks very low of herself. She doesn’t feel that she is noticed by the boys because she isn’t like the other girls. “... ‘Guys don’t think of me like that.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Guys don’t look at me like a girlfriend, you know? They don’t think I am pretty and all that kind of thing.’ … ‘You’re crazy,’ I tell her. ‘Didn’t you notice Cody Dennis and Jason Doyle were both hitting on you a while ago?’ ‘No, they weren’t.’ ‘Yes, they were. You are a sweetheart. I mean look at your soft little eyebrows, look at your cute, pouty mouth. You’re sexy,’” (Tharp 140). Aimee doesn’t see how beautiful she is, she doesn’t see that Sutter sees the world of her. Most teenage girls don’t, including me.
Body Image and The College Girl
To ensure that women feel like they are working to get in shape, a gym was designed. A gym to help women not only physically but mentally too. “A large part of the appeal, Mr. Heavin said, is that average or heavier-than-average women can get together with like-size women to support and inspire one another,” (Duenwald). This gym (Curves) caters to women in the sense that they become skinnier, but also there are women who are dealing with the same stress that they can talk to. These women feel their body image needs to match the rest of the world; so they work out and try to achieve that. I think that this gym is a great way to meet new people and also work on yourself. When I had gotten hurt from soccer, I went to the gym multiple times a week to get a head start on my activity. I know this doesn’t relate to the things that these women are feeling, but this gym encourages growth in anyway you want; not only are these women decreasing in size, but their mental state is improving too. To me, that means they are getting better.
What Is Body Positivity?-Imgur
The ads and magazines that are all around the world support one image; sexy. From this, everyone feels they need to uphold that ideal. The media exposes people of one image and people feel that they aren’t good enough if they don’t match that ideal. “But we still tend to trust what we see in the media and body image can easily be confused. The constant barrage of unrealistically skinny images can stir up feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and depression. It can even lead to the development of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia,” (Mirror, Mirror Eating Disorders). This directly connects media to all body image disorders. The media shows an image and people scramble to match it. Most models are skinny and the clothes are fit for those people. Have you ever seen a model that is a little more heavy? “Women are also writing more letters to magazine editors, criticizing the spindly fashion models and praising efforts to include bigger women, said Cindi Leive, the editor in chief of Glamour. She has received thousands of responses to her second annual ‘body love’ issue in May,” (Duenwald). More women are standing up for what’s right: diversity. The right to be what you want: the feeling of being safe with who you are. I feel that the world should have diversity, it is not fun if everyone looks the same. If that was the case, I would be boring, and that is not something I would enjoy. Neither do these women, sure they want to be like everyone else, but they want to look good in their own minds as well as other people’s.
Body Image-The Growing Population of Plus Size Models
The expectations for body image starts at a really young age, kids are introduced to the idea when they become old enough to understand the world. “She reminded the room that ‘young women begin to get influenced at earlier and earlier ages’ by social expectations of body image,” (Hillary Clinton). These children are exposed to media at such a young age these days and the amount of information released to them gradually increases. I got my first phone at fifth grade graduation. From that moment on, I have been exposed to the reality of the world, which is not something that is good. A year or so later, I got instagram and my world changed. I was immediately able to contact whoever I want whenever I want. The list keeps going, now I have instagram, facebook, snapchat, and I can text. All these things uncover new ideas the world has about body image. The biggest thing that I am influenced by is instagram, I am constantly checking for new posts and updates on people’s lives. It has gotten to the point of judging people by what they put on their page. Also, I only post things that I think are acceptable in my grade, something to earn popularity. Instagram is a place for insecurity a place where high schoolers can judge people by their image because they aren’t satisfied with theirs. “Today’s children and teens are surrounded by media images and messages portraying idealized body types, subsequently, it is important to understand the relationship between children’s media use and how they feel about their looks,” (Center on Media and Child Health). These expectations provoke insecurity amongst teenagers because they feel they aren’t good enough and that they aren’t matching the right image.
Body Image-University of California, Santa Cruz
Body image, a known topic, an epidemic spread through high schools; am I pretty, ugly, handsome? Teenagers are affected by this topic because they are the ones who start it. Women/teenage girls are only thought of by their image. The men only care if they are pretty. From my research, now I know that you are more beautiful than you think. I know that you can’t see your own beauty. I know that you don’t think anyone “likes” you. I know that people want to work on their body to make it how you want. I know that most models are skinny and gorgeous, and there aren’t many plus size models. I know that body image expectations start at a young age because children are exposed to social media and technology. I know all this because I am experiencing it, I am in high school, currently living it. It is hard being a girl in high school, so much to live up to. So what if I don’t look like those models? I can be who I want, and I don’t need the world telling me otherwise. Why do we, highschoolers, create these images that people need to live up to? Are we really that low? Our schools are based off of these ideas of body image, an image so up tight, it's hard to replicate. We as a community need something to feed off and revolve around; body image should not be that thing. Someone needs to stand up against this issue and dress the way they want, or else half our population will be gone as victims of a terrible movement. We need more people not afraid to be judged and talked about. A high school should not revolve around an image, it should be all about succeeding and not about popularity and images.
Althoff, Eric. “Ford tough: #SheDrivesWeDrive campaign shows women as agents of workplace change.” The Washington Times, 11 March, 2015, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/11/shedriveswedrive-shows-female-ford-engineers-break/
Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think. YouTube, uploaded by Dove. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE
Duenwald, Mary. “Body and Image: One Size Does Not Fit All” New York Times, 22 June. 2003, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/22/health/body-and-image-one-size-definitely-does-not-fit-all.html
Flegenheimer, Matt. “Hilary Clinton to Girl’s Question on Body Image: ‘Let’s Be Proud of Who We Are.’” New York Times, 4 Oct. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/us/politics/hillary-clinton-campaign.html
“The Media and Body Image” Mirror, Mirror Eating Disorder, http://www.mirror-mirror.org/the-media-and-body-image.htm
Tharp, Tim. The Spectacular Now. Publishers Weekly, 2008.