Body Image and Self Esteem
The impact of low self-esteem and negative body image is adversely affecting adolescents as they try to fit in in a never-ending society of expectations. The definition of body image according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is “a subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others. Body image is not just decided by ourselves, it is also decided by others. This occurs when people have physical reactions and facial expressions. The definition of self-esteem according to English Language Learners is “a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities. This could be good or bad, you could have a negative self-esteem and have little or no respect for yourself and your abilities, or you could have a positive self-esteem and have respect for yourself and your abilities. Body image and self-esteem is a person’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of one’s own body, how we view our size, shape, and weight. Though we make the final decision on if we are going to have a positive or negative self-esteem and body image, this can also be complicated by others and their reactions. Negative self-esteem and body image is affecting our mental health.
Negative body image or self-esteem can lead to three different types of disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders. Not only is this possible, but it is also very likely. An eating disorder, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “any of several psychological disorders characterized by serious disturbances of eating behavior At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S, according to ANAD. Mood disorder is “any of several psychological disorders characterized by abnormalities of emotional state, According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. An estimated 14.3% of adolescents have any mood disorder, and an estimated 11.2% have severe impairment, according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. About 14 percent of youth between 13 and 18 will suffer from a mood disorder, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. About one-half to two-thirds of all suicides are by people who suffer from mood disorders, according to ncib.gov. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “a personality disorder is characterized by antisocial behavior exhibiting pervasive disregard for and violation of the rights, feelings, and safety of others starting in childhood or the early teenage years and continuing into adulthood. According to Royal College of Psychiatrists, at any given time, about 1 in 20 people will have a personality disorder. These disorders do not just affect you for a short time, these issues that affect you for a lifetime.
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Social media is causing many unrealistic expectations that young adults and pre-teens are looking at and thinking they are supposed to look like that, they are comparing themselves and killing their self-esteem. Photos are often edited to make models thinner or to enhance their features, the pictures we are seeing and studying are not usually natural. The average American woman is 5’4 and weighs 140 pounds, while the average American model is 5’11 and weighs 117 pounds. “The problem is, a “perfect body doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way it is defined in the media. Photos are often edited to make models thinner or to enhance their features. So chasing the “perfect body can end only in disappointment. says familydoctor.org. When we see these pictures and long to look like these models or read about what they do to look like this, we are giving ourselves unrealistic expectations. Millions of women every day are bombarded with the media’s idea of the “perfect body, these unrealistic images are portrayed in women’s magazines all over the country. “And it’s not just the exposure to these images that is damaging. It’s our interaction with them?”the pressure to have the perfect profile pics, the comparisons we make, and the dangers of the constant scrutiny of our own and others’ bodies” says NEDA.
On social media everyone wants to have the perfect pictures posted, none of it is how you would see us normally. This fight to have the best and look the best is making it difficult for teenagers and women to feel like it is okay to be themselves. Negative body image is becoming more and more prevalent, and it is starting younger ages. Studies have shown that over 40 percent of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner, and over 80 percent of ten-year-olds are afraid of being fat. This is something that kids shouldn’t have to worry about. These issues are starting at a young age and enduring throughout their lifetime. Research suggests that children as young as 3 years old can have body image issues. Parents can play a critical role in helping children develop a positive body image and self-esteem. Even body language is not lost on children. Something as small as frowning in the mirror when you are trying on clothes can have an impact. This reinforces the message that a body needs to be perfect. Though we see this is becoming more prevalent, we are also seeing fighting back. We are seeing brands like Aerie fighting against unrealistic body image. “Girl power. Body positivity. No retouching., is their newest campaign. They also have on their website, “Share your unretouched photos & #AerieREAL story and include a hashtag and tag.
This is being used as a support system for girls and women to show that real bodies are perfect and shows that the models you see aren’t real. “As a brand, Aerie has been a leader in empowering women and celebrating inclusivity and body positivity since our launch of #AerieREAL in 2014” Jennifer Foyle, Aerie global brand president, said in a statement. “Our newest bra models are part of our brand’s ongoing commitment to show real, authentic and unretouched women, who are at the core of everything that we do. Aerie uses many different people, for example, “A woman with diabetes attaches her insulin pump to the back of her Aerie bra, another sits in a wheelchair. The campaign also features a cancer survivor, a chronic skin disease. The brand has since started calling models “role models. The negative impact of self-esteem and body image is affecting more and more adolescence, but we do see a push back. “In life generally, if you have too little money, lots of money is attractive. If you don’t have enough food, a banquet is highly appealing. But you need to think about high self-esteem differently. Self-esteem is more like paracetamol the right amount will help you, but too much is a very bad idea indeed. Says Mark Tyrrell. Self-esteem can go too far in both directions, You can have too much or too little. ” We live in a culture where thinness and beauty are highly valued for women and wealth and success are often considered to go hand in hand with a slim figure. This is proved wrong every day and is becoming more and more seen as wrong.