Thursday, May 7, 2009

Young Women and Body Image by Colleen Whitney

We all know her: The thin friend who always thinks she looks bloated; the obsessed friend who freaks if she misses her routine workout; the “healthy” friend who prides herself on not having eaten junk food in two years. Yes, she’s the friend who on the outside looks as though she’s happy as can be, in her size two dress dipping her carrot sticks in fat free, watered down ranch dressing. 75% percent of the female population (in America? ) struggles with eating disorders and/or distorted body images.

I was once that friend. Go ahead! Shudder. Roll your eyes. Smile contemptuously. I would if I were still that girl.

So let me give you some insight into how I got to be that girl.

It will come as no shocking surprise that the media has got a lot to do with it. A short while ago, I would have never admitted that something so “out there” as the media could affect me. But really, if you stop and think about it: how could it not?

As a rising college senior, it has taken me years to realize that the glossy pages of my favorite magazines contribute to the constant nagging, ugly, self-doubt that has plagued me for so many years. How are we, the normal people, supposed to compete for physical perfection with the celebrities that cover these pages--people with an entourage of personal trainers, personal makeup artists and personal stylists?

Also, the majority of these magazines, at some point, have featured articles that showcase “real women” with “real beauty.” I admit it, I want to see what this said “real women” look like – see if I can measure up. And, although, these articles show pictures of women who are not exactly in dire need of a meal, but it’s uncanny that they all still look fabulous in their white underwear. If I were a gambler, I’d bet that no “real woman” ever looks that good in her unflattering skivvies.

I feel strongly these publications rob young females of self-assurance and of the ability to feel beautiful in their own skin. These publications should communicate that a size two is not synonymous with beauty, sex does not equal love and that it’s okay if you don’t score well on the “Are You a Social Butterfly?” quiz.

My generation should not be the self- starving generation, but the self-confident generation. I know far too many successful young women who are their own worst critics—a critic whom they will never satisfy. I have beautiful friends who can’t enjoy the taste of a delicious dessert, and I know smart girls who have stupid obsessions with the scale. I urge other young women to embrace their blessings, stop trying to fight genetics and be proud of the life they lead. We, as young women, need to stop coveting a model’s body—stop feeling so physically inadequate. As Judy Garland said, “It’s always better to be a first rate version of yourself, than a second rate version of someone else.” Think about it.

1 comment:

  1. Here here. Well said and something that needs to be said over and over again. Thank you Ms. Whitney for speaking up and speaking out. I recently learned that Dove soap has begun addressing this issue with a campaign called Real Beauty. Check it out and check out the film called Evolution on this site:



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