We Are All Wonderwomen! By Sophia Alfero

Aimee Finecky and Sutter Keely were two different people living their own separate lives. Until, the unthinkable happened; they fell in love. Aimee being the nerdy, anti-social girl who stays in her place, has never thought of herself as pretty until Sutter comes along. Sutter, the popular alcoholic boy who unexpectedly falls into Aimee’s life proves her wrong. A story of obstacles and romance, these two characters prove that it’s what’s on the inside that matters, not the outside. It proves how teenage girls like Aimee feel as though they do not belong if they are not recognized, or as if they are not pretty or seen as attractive. It’s just another story about women feeling neglected through their image, until that special someone comes into your life, changing your whole perspective on things through the love, the lies, and the pain.

My first encounter regarding the issue of body image must have been from a very long time ago. As a young child, I was always very curious about what I was going to look like when I was older, focusing the most on my face and body. Fifth grade comes, and I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis; a disease involving a sideways curvature of the spine. During the remaining time in elementary school, it did not progress to the point where something needed to be done. Though, come fall of 2014, I was instructed by my orthapedist doctor to get fitted for and order a back brace. Scared and confused, I did not know what was coming at me. What were people going to think of me? What am I going to look like? Am I going to be made fun of? Thoughts like this were running through my head as I heard this news. Come the 2015 new year, I considered myself to be a “new me.” But Sophia, nothing has changed. Although nothing has changed, my whole image was totally destroyed just because of this one piece of hard and expensive plastic around my torso. Let me tell you, those six months felt like the longest half a year in my life. From thousands of questions to mental breakdowns, I’d think, is it over yet? Is the constant worry over my body image and worry over the opinions of me finally over? Am I ever going to be looked at like the “normal person,” whatever that means? Now, you would think roughly two years later, I feel confident about my body image and no longer think about my little friend Scoliosis who’s literally attached to me at the hip. Well, surprisingly enough, you are wrong. To this day, I still have mental breakdowns about my diagnosis. Although it may not be directed towards the brace since I don’t wear it anymore, it’s directed towards myself as a figure. Although it shouldn’t, my scoliosis has changed me. Even with my parents constantly telling me I shouldn’t be, I am overly self-conscious with own body and feel highly uncomfortable in it, just because of this. There have been nights where I have cried looking at myself in the mirror, or cried myself to sleep thinking of anything I would do to just change one thing about me; scoliosis. Even now, doing research for this paper on scoliosis, tears stream down my face as I look at the pictures and take in this information to realize that’s what I look like; that’s who I am. Normally, I would not feel comfortable talking about my situation and the struggles it has brought me, though I feel as though it is the appropriate time to express my own opinions on the negative effects of body image. Coincidentally, It is only now until I realize, that the one and only character Aimee Finecky, played by Shailene Woodley in the film adaptation, is a victim of scoliosis herself.

As Woodley has stated, “Some people have crooked teeth, some people have broken fingers, and I’ve got a back that has my initial on it,” (Hegde 1) as do I.
Famous People with Scoliosis (left to right): Sarah Michelle Gellar (Pinterest), Shailene Woodley (Spiral Spine) , and Usain Bolt (Spiral Spine)

Some of my best friends have had concerns with their body image; some minor and some major. A couple years back, one my best friends since ‘04 was diagnosed with a severe health issue. With the diagnosis of an overactive thyroid, it caused her to lose all of her hair. Being her best friend, she would talk to me about her situation; about how people at school would stare at her, about how she could not leave the house without a hat on or something to cover her bare head. It is important to know that her father has alopecia, in which it might be expected that she has it too, which is something that runs through her mind everyday. Being a developing girl with no hair was not easy, but she knew she could do it. Because of her overactive thyroid, it caused her to pick up on some abnormal habits. This could have included mood swings, panic attacks, hyperactivity, puffy eyes, weight loss, and hair loss (HealthLine). In her situation, she lost a lot of weight, and all of her hair. It was not easy for her, starting middle school and having no hair on her head or anywhere else on her body. The bodies change combined with the idea of wanting to be accepted, could be tempting to compare yourself to others; the problem being that when this happens, people begin to underestimate themselves, (KidsHealth). Through these past four years, medicine after medicine, her condition has finally come to a conclusion. Despite her previous different appearance, she stands today as the same beautiful girl she was before, now with a full head of hair and a positive body image that came from the accomplishing feeling of beating Alopecia.

The spreading of negative body image is not being helped by the fact that popular icons all fall under the same category; skinny, beautiful, tall, photoshop, etc. Back in the 1950s, a naturally beautiful and full-filled icon included Marilyn Monroe. In the twenty first century, icons now include Kendall Jenner, Kate Middleton, Beyonce, etc. You hear no more of inspiring stories or movements about body image positivity. Though, Ashley Graham is one of the few of many icons who influences this in the world today. She is a beautiful plus size model who continues to provide her perspective on body positivity worldwide. I wish I could be someone so inspiring to people to help someone change people's negative outlook on their images as she does, but some may say a five foot five ninth grader may not be able to do the job. However, it only takes one minute of your day to make someone else’s by inspiring their own body positivity.

The difference between Victoria's Secret Body Campaign and Dove's Body Campaign (WE Magazine for Women)

Did you know that according to PsychCentral, 80% of women in the U.S are dissatisfied with their appearance? But why is this? Why is it that most women feel as though they don’t fit in because of their body? Why do bodies even matter? It’s not about what’s on the inside, it’s about what’s on the outside, right? Much of this self-hatred comes from the perceptions from society as mentioned before. Through the media, press, and campaigns, society it is constantly putting pressure on us to look just like models. It is only recently that plus-size models, like Ashley Graham, have become popular icons. Graham states that your size does not determine anything, although it is important to be healthy and take care of your body.

She also states that what is important is giving yourself positive energy “instead of taking in the negativity of beauty standards” (Grahm, Like Success).

As shown in The Spectacular Now, women are judged and based upon their body image most of the time. Their personalities do not matter, it’s all about what you see on the outside. Therefore, what’s next on the journey through the development of the socially acceptable body image?

Plus size Model Ashley Graham is pictured with five other models in their #ImNoAngel photoshoot (Huffington Post)

It’s arguable to say that society has influenced how teenagers feel about their body and that it affects their development. Throughout this paper, it is proven that body image does not just involve weight or size. It can involve health conditions like scoliosis and alopecia, which can be affected through the sources of propaganda and your daily life, including high school. High school is a place filled with critical judgement, and through my first few months of school I have already witnessed that. As far as body image goes, I can not explain the number of stories and situations that I know are true involving the negative outlook on a girl’s body. Personally, I do not like to involve myself in topics or situations like that, because I feel as though it is totally unnecessary and ridiculous. All in all, the twentieth century is much different from earlier years. The socially acceptable body runs through most adolescent girls minds, seeking for approval that they are “the norm,” (NASW). You can argue that it only happens with immature children who are progressing through the different stages of life, but ask yourself: Have you really never felt unsatisfied with your own body or someone else's?

Inspiring image relating to the idea of socially acceptable bodies (Curves Become Her)

Why do we as humans even have personalities then if what we are going to be judged upon is what’s on the outside? Why do I go out of my way to be a kind person, when maybe that’s really not what people are focusing on about me? These are questions I ask myself when I am forced to second-guess my appearance. At Staples High School, left and right you look around and see the diversity there is around the school. Those who do not dress the same as the “basic” girl or boy, are not afraid of what other people are going to say. We need more of these types of people in the world! We need someone or something to take charge and promote this issue of the negative interruption of teenagers development through self-conscious body image.

Body positivity image providing examples of the real meaning of "beauty" (Pinterest)
  • Ross, Carolyn Coker. Why Do Women Hate Their Bodies? PsychCentral. Contributed by Grohol, John M. 2nd ed. World of Phycology. 7 August. 2015. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/02/why-do-women-hate-their-bodies/.
  • Sandberg, Sheryl. “Women Are Leaning In---but They Face Pushback.” The Wall Street Journal. Contributed by Thomas, Rachel. 1st ed. The Wall Street Journal. 27 September. 2016.

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