It is not uncommon for a person to feel self-conscious about his or her body, especially in today’s society. There is constant pressure for people to fit the mold of what a “perfect” woman or man is supposed to look like, and it can be extremely easy to feel inadequate when compared to those deemed as “skinny” or “fit.” Because of our culture’s current obsession with beach ready bodies and tiny waists, a majority of people don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. Confidence is a really important aspect of an individual’s persona, but unfortunately it appears to be pretty hard to come by in recent times.
It seems as though the media is the main reason behind a majority of the insecurities that people have about their bodies. According to Bojana Berić, a health studies professor, “Different standards have always been used regarding appreciation of a male and a female body, mostly directed by popular culture.” She added, “Very often, celebrities of their time impose the trend of a good looking, but not necessarily healthy, body.” The men and women who are most frequently photographed in the media are the ones who inadvertently set the standards for body image.
Magazines and entertainment news shows create a fairly clear picture of what they believe a person’s body should look like. “Beautiful” women have tiny waists, a flat stomach, full breasts, long legs, and nice curves, while “attractive” men are tall, have a muscular build, a prominent set of abs and that super sexy V-line that so many women seem to love. With these ridiculous standards set for the general public, no wonder so many people lack the confidence necessary to feel good about their body.
Our generation seems to have gotten the worst of it, too. Young people are so concerned with how they look and what they weigh that excessive dieting and eating disorders have become an incredibly prevalent part of our society. According to dosomething.org, five to 10 million people suffer from an eating disorder, and about 90 percent of those people are between the ages of 12 and 25.
For the purpose of this article, student names have been changed to maintain anonymity. Brandon, a freshman, is very familiar with going to extremes in order to lose weight. “I wrestled in high school, and my eating habits suffered because of it,” he explained. “I had to skip meals and cut down the amount of water that I drank too.” Brandon had to participate in a variety of strange dieting efforts throughout his wrestling career, such as spitting into an empty water bottle as a way to quickly lose weight the day of a match.
But Brandon also felt the pressure to have a nice body outside of the wrestling realm. “I think guys get overlooked a lot when it comes to self-consciousness and body image. People mostly focus on how girls feel about the issue, but guys get self-conscious too,” he said. “We’re supposed to have big muscles and really nice abs, and it’s intimidating, especially in the summer when you see guys who are bigger than you.”
Rebecca, another freshman, also knows what it’s like to feel self-conscious about her body. “I was born with a medium build; with broad shoulders and thicker bones so my body simply was not built to fit into a size two, let alone a size zero,” she said. Rebecca said she hated shopping when she was younger because it was difficult for her to find clothes that fit her properly. “Now, I finally realize it is not that my shoulders are manly or that I’m overweight; it is simply that the clothing stores I was shopping in were catering to girls and women who have a smaller body type than I did,” Rebecca explained.
Unfortunately, the views of today’s society have the ability to affect so many people in such a powerful way that many men and women are going to extremes in order to achieve the perfect body. The truth is that eating disorders have become a lifestyle for a lot of young men and women, and it is getting harder and harder to find people who are dieting or exercising simply to prolong their health.
There is definitely a difference between doing whatever it takes to look good and working hard in order to become healthier. If the media and our society continue to humiliate those who do not meet their standards, health concerns are only going to get worse.
IMAGE TAKEN from gambooge.net