Unfortunately we live in a culture that praises perfect body images. Girls are being fed this ideal body image since they’re little girls so by early adolescence they are brainwashed that they must be Barbie and Ken like replicas. And the ideal male is portrayed as six pack and muscles. This began in the 1950’s and today our kids are being exploited through media channels. These body image ideologies are developed in the framework of sociocultural factors. The Photoshopped images the media portrays as perfection.
Jillian Croll reports that the overwhelming prevalence of ultra-thin female images and strong and lean male images are cause for concern for our adolescents. She states the following statistical findings:
• 50-88% of adolescent girls feel negatively about their body shape or size
• 49% of teenage girls say they know someone with an eating disorder
• Only 33% of girls say they are at the “right weight for their body”, while 58% want to lose weight. Just 9% want to gain weight
• Females are much more likely than males to think their current size is too large (66% vs. 21%).
• Over one-third of males think their current size is too small, while only 10% of women consider their size too small
• Strikingly, while only 30% of older adolescents surveyed consider their current size acceptable to them, 85% of females and 95% of males considered their current size socially acceptable for others
• 85% of young women worry “a lot” about how they look and twice as many males as females say they are satisfied with their appearance
This country has placed too much value on body image, “the way I look” has become the gauge for self-worth. For girl it’s the unrealistic images they were raised on such as Barbie and perfectly shaped superheroes like Wonder Woman. Whereas for boys it’s more about their strength, height, speed, broadness.
There is a trend that has been proven by statistical methods that body satisfaction is heavily influenced by the embodiment of sociocultural beliefs. Anne Becker an expert on eating disorders from Harvard Medical School reports that the media is largely responsible for what our adolescents are trying to measure up to. Not to mention what moms and dads are so heavily focused on also.
Becker reports that in a study she did on girls in Fiji she learned that until the mid-1990’s there was only one case of anorexia nervosa in the country. Until 1995 remote areas of Fiji had no exposure to television. When the Fiji government allowed Western programing the rate of change in body imagine began to change almost instantly. Prior to television the Fiji culture valued large, Body image robust and strong-boned women.
So how does a parent fight against this overwhelming influence and empowers their girls and reframes this hulk like figure in their boys? It has little to do with how you look but everything to do with your perception (mental: thoughts, ideas, beliefs) about your body. If the large majority looks different from you then your mental picture about your body also changes. If your body image is dependent on false images and ideal depictions of beauty then you will forever be fighting the battle of body image therefore, low self-esteem.
For this reason addressing this from a mental health prospective is the best way to get the most impactful results. Females must be built up from within and be made to understand that different body types is the way it’s supposed to be. Because it is virtually impossible for everyone to have the perfect body. Just as it is impossible for everyone to look the same.
The inner being must be reconstructed from the damage the media has done to our females and males. Doing the very best with the body you have is key, accentuating your positives is the best course of action. Having a loving and supportive relationship with your body is the only way that you will succeed in achieving higher self-esteem and developing a loving connection with your body image.Adolescent Issues