How much pressure do today’s teens face to have the ‘perfect body’

Sophia Counter, Journalist

The topic of body image has floated in the air for centuries, but within the past couple of decades, the idea of an almost non-existence double 0 sized waist was classified as the beauty standard. But when that is what is expected, what happens to the yoAdd Storyung girls (and boys) who look in the mirror and stave themselves to be accepted by society? This is what is being taught to our generation. When we are predisposed to this, we never learn from it. We just think this is okay, I am okay with this. Although more awareness is upcoming to eating disorders, many people shy away from the topic as it can be triggering. Eating disorders aren’t just not eating, they come in many forms. From Anorexia Nervosa, a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss, to Bulimia Nervosa, a serious, also potentially life-threatening eating disorder caused by a cycle of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting. As this is a very sensitive topic for many people, even myself, I believe it is so important for your mental and physical wellbeing. So how much pressure do young teens face to fit the “perfect body” category? In a study done by NYC’s Girl’s Project, studies show that every 1 in 4 women between the ages of 16 and 22 have an eating disorder. 90% of high school girls diet regularly, 81% of 10-year-old girls say they are afraid of being “fat”, 31% of girls admit they starve themselves to lose weight. And 41% of girls say they strive to look like the supermodels in magazines. Social media has such a heavy influence on how we act and feel. Imagine just sitting in your bed, eating a delicious box of cheez-its, crumbs on your hoodie, hair in a messy bun while scrolling through Instagram. Oh look another unrealistic skinny waisted supermodel in a bikini, gosh I wished I looked like that. The constant negative thoughts of wanting to be something you’re not lingers in your mind and slowly starts to eat at your self-esteem. Boys face similar issues, from height to weight. In an article by author, Raj Chandler writes about how “Most celebrities, scientists, and average guys agree that there’s one major contributing factor we can credit for the rise of negative body perception for men and boys: the silver screen. Stars like Hugh Jackman and Chris Pratt pack on muscle to transform into superheroes to join the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg. This increases male public interest in obtaining their recipes for chiseled abs and bulging biceps. A vicious cycle ensues.” So naturally, they think ‘why don’t I look like that?’ Humans are rather simple creatures, you feed us information and we take it into the best of our capabilities. The way we process that information given to us is where it gets complex. The whispers people say behind your back when you are standing by the box of donuts at work, The snarky remarks the popular boys say about your body. You can choose to ignore them but the thought that is what they are saying true? grows louder and louder in the back of your head. More actions to promote positive body image and to restore negative body image have become more accessible. Many companies have switched their advertisements and PR campaigns to help promote a strong and healthy body image among current consumers in our changing society. Dove, for example, has a campaign launched called ‘The Self Esteem Project’ encouraging young girls that their bodies are normal, “ low body confidence and anxieties over appearance keep young people from being their best selves, affecting their health, friendships, and even performance at school.” As more people in society are becoming acceptable to so many things, you start to learn that you aren’t the only one going through this. You are not alone. There are people to reach out to if you are struggling with this and it will get better!