It’s going to be an interesting week here. I have my surgery today (Yikes!) and then am determined to have a quick recovery and the “go-ahead” to start training for Thunder Road (Keep your fingers crossed).
Today I have something a bit different to share with you all. I haven’t done one of these in a long time (since college) but I am in the process of writing an essay for a group that I hope to write for soon! Luckily and unluckily, I had some serious writers block when I was asked to write an essay. It was this past weekend that I found exactly what I was going to write about. Yay!
I volunteer with a non profit organization (name is disclosed for privacy). Their mission is to promote self esteem and awareness for young girl’s issues in a peer to peer environment. It’s a GREAT program with some great women leading it. During a session I was teaching at this weekend, I found my inspiration.
I apologize for the lengthiness of this piece but I do hope you enjoy it! Also, blogger’s note. These are pretty candid interpretations of my teenage years. Please be nice! 🙂
And don’t worry…I’ll be back tomorrow with Burnouts 🙂
This essay is a candid and raw interpretation of body image and self esteem young teenagers and women have in our American society. These stories are true stories however their names have been changed for anonymity.
Note: I understand that muffin top, love handles, and pooch are not scientific nor scholarly words for this type of piece. I apologize in advance for those scholars reviewing this. I’m just trying to explain the skinny waistline complex flashback.
August 25th, 2012
All I want is a skinny waistline.
I’ll never forget it, it was at the Cross Keys Skating Rank in the 7th grade. I had a boyfriend (this was odd) named Greg and his friend raced up to us holding hands and called me a whale compared to him, a pre-pubescent teenager who turned red at the comment.
The funny thing is that I just shared this for the first time with my best friend a few months ago. She never knew this story and of course she told me it was absolutely ridiculous to have such a focus on a comment that happened literally 15 years ago.
And then I saw it today, at the non profit program. These girls were courageous standing up in front of their peers and explaining who they are and what they liked. Although all were great to watch, it was two girls’ comments that struck me like a flashback gone bad.
She had a magazine clipping of a model on her poster what she described as a skinny girl, “I put this girl on here because I want a skinny waistline.” Courageous girl number two explained that she wanted to be beautiful by being skinny. It didn’t help that I ran to my computer after class and ran a Google search to find, “81% of girls at age 10 are afraid of being fat.”
The flashbacks haunted me. These girls are still feeling the way that I was feeling in the seventh grade. The SAME feeling.
My immediate thought is to reach out to them, shake them and tell them “You will get through it, I promise!” But I knew that wasn’t going to work because it’s been fifteen years and it’s repeating over and over.
In the United States alone, 10 million girls suffer from an eating disorder, one million boys suffer from an eating disorder as well and 25 million Americans suffer from a binge eating disorder. (Love Your Body Day, 2002) That is almost one in every one hundred girls will be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
It really was upsetting to see these girls fighting this; just with the few introductory sentences they said I knew it was a struggle of theirs. One that will continue to succumb them until high-school and even college.
It brings me to another flashback I had during my senior year of high school. Although I never had an eating disorder, I had a body image problem. In northern public schools, prom and senior activities are major events for your graduation milestone. When I describe major, I describe it as a financial, physical and mental event with the many obligations. (My prom budget from my savings was $700)
I worked out every day, never treated myself to a cookie and was determined to lose weight to look good in my prom dress, bathing suit and graduation cap and gown. I worked out excessively, as did my peers, and ate the bare minimum. I watched all my female peers mentioning their struggles to get to their goal weight for prom as well. It was a feeder for body image issues and even worse eating disorders. I can still name ten women in my class who didn’t eat for at least a month before this big milestone. Again, something I will never forget.
It’s these pressures that still today make me have these flashbacks AND continue to stare at the mirror to check to see if my muffin top is showing. We see 400-600 media advertisements a day as an American and almost 10% of them are beauty messages. (Something-fishy.net, 2007) How are we supposed to be and FEEL healthy if all we see are these messages in our home, work, commute, activities, restaurants, bars, etc.?
So here it is. Call me crazy for having these terrible flashbacks and quick urgencies to go up and hug these courageous girls but someone has to do it. Someone has to start acknowledging that this isn’t right; that these young successful girls and their peers all over the country will struggle with this thought for their entire teenage and adulthood lives.
Or maybe it’s some people? Some groups?
We need, as a society, to understand this severe issue. That these young women who, also noted that they were smart by adding a picture of the Google Logo and proclaiming their goals to go to college, will be circumvented and concentrated on their looks and their appearance as an item of success, their happiness and acceptance.
“”We recommend that overweight consumers attempt to avoid looking at ads with any models, thin or heavy (perhaps by avoiding women’s magazines),” the authors conclude.” (Science Daily , 2009)
Right. We should stop looking at every magazine, TV advertisement, public bathroom oh…and don’t forget to close your eyes on the highways since we see models there too. Get real.
Love Your Body Day. (2002). Fact Sheet: Women and Eating Disorders. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://www.loveyourbdyday.nowfoundation.org: http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/factsheet_2.html
Science Daily . (2009). How Does Media Exposure Affect Self-Esteem In Overweight And Underweight Women? Retrieved August 25, 2012, from Science Daily: (1- http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013162758.html)
Something-fishy.net. (2007). The Media. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from Something-fishy.net: http://www.something-fishy.org/cultural/themedia.php