The image was drawn by Kenzie Hebert
Before I began, I want you to ask yourself this question: “Have you ever felt pressured or insecure about your body size (ex: bigger stomach, weaker jawline, smaller butt) or about any body marks (ex: acne, acne scars, or stretch marks)?”
I asked 21 other girls the same question, and a little over 95% said yes. Let me rephrase, 20 out of 21 girls said yes. With only one replying “kind of”. None of these girls said no. None. One of the girls even said, “Yes. I was so insecure about my body that I ended up developing an eating disorder and had one for a few years.” Another said, “All the time. I walk around people I love and I can’t help thinking that they might be judging me for not being perfect looking.” Now 21 might seem like a small amount to you, but I can assure you, much more people feel this way every day, including myself. Just the fact that 21 people feel this way is absolutely wrong and leads me to believe that in a way, society is failing them. I want to try and find the reasons why we feel this way, and how body positivity can help. So let’s dive right in.
To be completely honest, I believe that everyone has felt insecure about themselves at one point or the other. One of the girls to who I asked my question said, “I think it’s engraved into all of our brains from an early age to feel these ways, and separating ourselves from that idea and way of thinking is really hard.” Everyone has been taught to feel this way. They may have been the sly remarks your family made when you were a child. Telling you to eat less, or even recommending a new type of face scrub to get rid of acne. Telling you that you were too small, too fat, too skinny, or too tall. One of the others I asked my question to talked about how her family made her feel like a child; “I was often made fun of for my body and told to stop eating so much by 2 family members. I was told that if I kept eating the way I did, I would get fat and no longer be pretty. I was told that repeatedly as a child. It was so bad that even if I received a compliment, I got very insecure”. She even told me how her own family would call her flat, and one of them even bought her a pushup bra when she was just 12 years old. A lot of insecurities can be traced back to when you were a child, and this may very well be one of the reasons that people struggle with finding and maintaining a positive body image. But if we learn to accept that their opinions don’t matter, maybe we can learn to see ourselves in a better light. One where our bodies are our bodies and no one has the right to judge them. Maybe if we started thinking this way, then things might look up, for all of us.
Another one of the reasons I think that people struggle with a positive body image is because they base what they should look like on others. They look at social media and see these models, and they think to themselves, “Why can’t I look like that?” Sometimes people could just be walking down the street and thinking about how they aren’t as perfect as the others around them. One of the other girls I interviewed talked about how other people can affect her body image. She said, “ I personally think that I feel pressured to “fix” my body image when I look within society, ie: Instagram models, or sometimes other people in general.” Well, let me tell you something that I found out. A lot of the girls I’ve interviewed, in my eyes, are absolutely gorgeous. Maybe I at some point even wished I looked like them. But they told me that they have or currently do still feel insecure or pressured about their bodies. These gorgeous girls have most likely at some point, or even currently, felt bad about their bodies and themselves. Also, I know how cringey this sounds, but you probably have at one point been one of those girls on the street. You were probably one of the girls people looked at and wished they could be like. I think everyone has been at one point. However, me calling you gorgeous may not be helpful to you. Some of the girls I interviewed talked about how compliments can make them feel more insecure, and one of them even said, “It’s really hard to have confidence even when people compliment me”. So me saying you’re beautiful might not be the biggest help to you, because you have to believe it yourself as well. I’m not saying you’re going to just wake up tomorrow and remember my words, remember your gorgeous, I’m saying that these things take time, and eventually, you’re going to accept this fact for yourself. Once you realize that those beautiful people on the street are just as pretty as you are and that you shouldn’t think of them as the beauty standard, I think you’ll go far.
This brings me to one of my greatest questions: What is society to think it can dictate the way girls look? What is society to think it can dictate the way anyone looks? I wish I knew, and I wish there was an easier way to find out, and I wish I knew all the answers to stop feeling this way, but I don’t. I don’t know if I ever will. To be completely honest, I think that everyone has their own answer because everyone is different, and everyone doesn’t think the same way. However, body positivity is something everyone deserves, and something everyone will have eventually. If you don’t believe me, just wait and see.
Hello! I’m Kenzie, the writer of this blog!! I just wanted to say thank you to the girls that we're able to answer my questions and even give me reasons as to why! Thank you for permitting me to use your words, and thank you for having the courage to admit how you were or are feeling. To the girl who said she had an eating disorder, I am so glad you were able to get over it! If anyone else feels like they may be developing an eating disorder over their body image, or for any other reason, I encourage you to talk to someone. Anyone. Someone that understands you. Admitting how you’re feeling can be key to not feeling that way anymore. If you have any other issues regarding your body image, please talk to someone as well. Your feelings are valid, and there are people who can help. :)
Kenzie Hebert, TeensForWomen Co-Editor