Do you like what you see?

Learn to love the skin you’re in

By Lauren Lukens
Managing Editor
lauren_lukens@yahoo.com

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? If the answer is no, you are not alone. Many women in the United States feel obligated to “measure up” to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which leads to poor body image perception that resonates across the country. Body image can be defined by the way that someone perceives their body and assumes others perceive them. The message expressed by society is that women need to lose weight andt hat the natural aging process is a tragic fate. This is a scam created by the beauty industry to expand revenue and construct uniformity among women.

It is no secret that women are constantly bombarded with a “Barbie Doll-like” image that is impossible to achieve and maintain. Family and friends can influence body image with both positive and negative comments, just as any doctor’s advice could be misinterpreted and affect how one sees or feels about their body. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds. The problem is that young girls, particularly those who consume excessive amounts of mainstream media and watch reality TV, look at these models and get the idea that this is how everyone is supposed to look.

Because self-esteem is closely linked to body image, adolescents often develop eating disorders, practice substance abuse, turn to plastic surgery, and suicidal thoughts to cope with their insecurities, while often developing mental issues in the process. According to www.dosomething.org, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Although dieting can be a healthy way to lose weight, women often push to achieve the unrealistic body image portrayed in the American media that is only naturally possessed by about 5% of women. More than one-third of people that admit to “normal dieting” will merge into pathological dieting, and roughly a quarter of those will suffer from partial or full-out eating disorders. When people are not achieving the results that they are seeking, they often resort to drugs, such as weight loss pills, illicit drugs, and smoking, to quickly lose weight. The problem is that doing these drugs, may allowe them to gain the results they are looking for, they quickly become addicted which leads to a downhill path of life. Oftentimes, a person’s last resort to gain the image they desire is plastic surgery. According to www.dosomething.org, more than 30% of women and 20% of men agree they would consider cosmetic surgery in the future. In the past 15 years, the number of cosmetic procedures has increased by 197% and about $10 billion is spent yearly on these types of procedures. While some use plastic surgery to regain a normal appearance after a disfiguring accident, choosing to get plastic surgery when not absolutely necessary, like any surgery, has many risks of medical complications, such as infection, severe bleeding, and nerve damage. Sadly, if all else fails, people cometimes choose to end their lives because they do not feel adequate to remain in society, which should never be the case.

If you, or someone you know, believe they are either too fat or not pretty enough, be sure to remind them that there is so much more to life than just appearance. Did Kathrine Switzer care about what others thought of her when she became the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon, or did Mother Theresa look like the girl on the cover of Vogue when attempting to prevent hunger in India? The purpose of life is to serve yourself and others, not to look appealing. Instead of attempting to cope with feelings of inadequacy alone, seek help to accurately make improvements. Only about 10% of people suffering from an eating disorder will seek professional help. If the other 90% would accept and obtain help for their problems, self-esteem and depression would be eliminated at an earlier stage, and other more serious outcomes could be prevented. Consider the images that a brands use to sell their products. Ralph Lauren was caught grotesquely altering an advertising image of model Filippa Hamilton, who was later fired for being “too fat.” Do not give a company business if you do not agree with their message. By buying products that portray these unrealistic images, you are allowing yourself and others to be cheated of their natural beauty.

Women of all shapes and sizes should pledge to say at least one positive thing about themselves daily, stop being overly critical, appreciate everything that makes them who they are, and understand that true beauty stems from confidence. Remember that fashion is just an industry and the ideal that society portrays is unrealistic.