I used to have a little tradition of buying a cheesy teen magazine during the first week of summer and lying on the beach reading about the perfect nail polish color, or how to make your skin appear flawless. The primary reason I enjoyed this was because I knew it was pure junk, and that most of it could not be accurate. Yet I recently began to look into how inaccurate these magazines are in portraying how teenage girls are and should be, while also considering the effects on the self-esteem of many readers. Because even I, who laughed at most of the spreads on the glossy pages, felt my happiness with my body disintegrate a bit each time I picked up one of those magazines.
A few weeks ago I attended the Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College, and I decided that I should focus on body image and the media’s effects on the minds and bodies of young girls. I learned so much from all the girls I talked to at the program, from the classes and workshops I participated in, and from all the research I conducted on the subject. There is just so much to say about the issue of magazines and media and their effects on teenage girls’ perception of themselves. One portion of my group’s project included a video in which we interviewed many girls participating in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute. I hope you watch this video and spread the message!
A little while ago, I was at my friend’s house for the weekend. Her younger sister, who was in second grade, had a friend over (let’s call her T) on Saturday night. According to today’s beauty standards, T is absolutely gorgeous, despite the fact that she is only eight years old. In addition to being physically appealing, her personality is totally adorable.
The thing I remember T most for, however, is the fact that she laughed. That is, that she laughed despite the big gap between her two front teeth.
It struck me that this little girl wasn’t afraid to laugh out loud, that she wasn’t afraid to smile. She wasn’t trying to hide her “imperfect” teeth. She didn’t feel self-conscious about it. She just didn’t care that her teeth …
As long as I can remember, I have had a great deal of respect and gratitude for the body. I like my body in particular. It works. It is the reason I am me. When I was three years old my mom gave birth to my little sister. Delighted to have a younger sibling, it was a hard pill to swallow when we came to find that she was born with some very severe disabilities, including something called Down Syndrome. Her body was very different from mine inside and out. It was always, and will always be, a great weight on my heart to know that she will never know what it is like to have a body like mine. Because of that, gratitude comes easy.
Lately I’ve been getting into fights with my parents. Well, one main fight. They want me to find a job.
The argument part started when my hair turned out three different colors by mistake this year and I really wanted to dye my hair back to its natural, dark color. They said they will pay to dye my hair, but only dirty blond because I need to have “sex appeal” in order to find a part time job while going to school. Gross.
I want to be all natural and real, not fake like I’m trying to look like workplace Barbie. They told me, “You need to use your femininity to get a job. Half the workers are male workers and you can’t even do those jobs because you are a …
Love The Body You’ve Got (Take It From A Fat Girl)
I recall a time in elementary school when a friend tried to defend me from a few bullies by saying that I “wasn’t fat, just big-boned.” A few years later, I had a teacher who — probably in an attempt to keep my ego intact — wouldn’t let kids say “fat” in class, only “fluffy.”
To set the record straight, I do not have abnormally large bones. And I am not, nor have I ever been, a rabbit. But whether it’s these sugar-coated terms or the painfully unoriginal “ugly fat girl,” I’ve never quite been able to shake my overweight status for long.
Despite a few traumatizing events (i.e. falling off the jungle gym, losing my paper pilgrim’s hat on Thanksgiving, etc.), I have relatively good memories of elementary school. …
Seventeen’s Pretty Amazing Contest Is Pretty Amazing
I’ll be honest: I have my issues with Seventeen Magazine. It’s not just that most of the magazine revolves around a traditional and restrictive definition of beauty and their idea of “health” still revolves around dieting and working out in order to achieve your “best body ever.” My biggest problem is what the magazine overall promotes as being important to its readership of teen girls. Are we really just obsessed with how to impress the guy we like and what celebrities are up to? (No, hence, the FBomb exists). And even when “real” issues are brought up – like eating disorders or sex – they’re non-committedly grazed over (Again, oh hey, FBomb).
That being said, I think Seventeen has been making some really great improvements lately. As a …
For over a year not very long ago, I had a plethora of very strange rules for myself to follow. I could only eat certain things at certain times. I had numbers that dictated my actions, numbers of calories and daily intake percentages and pounds. It was a suffocating process; luckily, I never followed my regulations enough for it to impact my health. Still, it affected my mind quite a bit.
Perhaps more damaging to my self-esteem was my body image. Unlike the majority of the population, especially teenagers, I really don’t enjoy food very much. This made any disordered eating-type behaviors extremely easy for me.
Most of my friends are exceptionally thin, as in magazine-ad thin. Most of them are athletic and/or naturally thin; as far as I know, …