The issue of body image is something that many girls will have a problem with in their lifetime. Our society places a lot of importance upon the external meaning of what beauty is, instead of learning to find it from within. From a young age, girls will be exposed to images from magazines, television and will also begin to compare themselves to their peers. Many girls will begin to conform to what they think is the normal standard of beauty and start to believe that they will only be beautiful if they change who they are.
There is so much emphasis on the discussion of women’s bodies from shaming it, being too skinny, too curvy, or just not “good enough”. These are images that girls are literally bought into by industries that prey upon the insecurities of people to buy their products. It is fine to want to express your femininity from a place of healthy confidence, but not to cover up or feel the need to do it for approval. Not for the approval of comparing yourself to other girls or doing it to feel pretty enough for the opposite sex.
I wish to live in a society where the norm is to have magazines that celebrate all of the ways women are changing the world with their intellect and imagination. Let us celebrate something other than the shape of our bodies. How about we celebrate the women on the brink of a new invention or women that create amazing art that lifts the spirits. These are the real heroes for the younger generation. They are the ones who are raw in their beauty. These are the women whom built their life around something more important that the standardized approval of beauty. Girls need these strong women mentors, so they do not get caught up and lose themselves. Being feminine means to nurture, love, and to respect yourself first and foremost.
This topic of body image is something that brings up a lot of personal feelings from my own past. Like many young girls, I had many years of struggling with my body and teaching myself how to feel comfortable in it and nurture it properly. I was never taught how to fully embrace my body, especially when I was going through puberty and my body was becoming shapelier. This is also the time when members of the opposite sex begin to take notice and family members. I remember my family having a get together when I was around twelve years old, which was a pool party at the house I grew up in. My whole family was there and I remember stepping out with my bathing suit on. My Aunt came up to me in front of everyone and touched my breast and said, “Looks like she is blossoming into a woman.” I felt completely humiliated and no one else did anything but begin to laugh. I ran inside immediately and covered up my body. The next ensuing weeks I bought the smallest bra I could find and literally tapped down my breasts because I felt ashamed to have them. I’m sure many girls have similar stories growing up, whether it was their family or a member of the opposite sex making remarks about their body. It is not alright to mock, berate, or humiliate a girl going through this transition. Becoming a woman is something sacred and a sensitive time for a girl.
How can we create a positive body image for the girls around us? I think it begins by teaching them when they are younger, especially when they going through puberty, about how the body will change. Also, teaching girls about healthy eating habits and exercise. For one to have a positive body image, they have to feel confident that they are treating it with proper care. This is done by listening to when the body wants rest, exercise, dance, chocolate, a salad, and realizing it is a vessel for our health: mind, body & spirit. It’s not about how we adorn our bodies on the outside, but about how we are able to nourish our body from the inside that will create a healthy impact upon our body image. In the end, it all comes down to accepting yourself. You are given this one sacred body and one sacred life…so learn to love and embrace it.
By: Adriana Zollo