Column By J1 Reporter Ellie Peter
Almost every single little girl has looked at her young stomach in the mirror and cried. From a young age, we know what we should be. Skinny. Or so society says, and tough luck if you’re not.
The first time I ever felt insecure was when I was 6 years old. I didn’t like how I looked in my Catholic school uniform, so from there on out I sucked in my stomach. I haven’t let myself breath since.
Insecurity spreads from girl to girl as we get older. A nanny and I once compared how pregnant we looked. I was 7. It hasn’t gotten better from there, my insecurity growing to my chest, my thighs, my face and my arms.
People put expectations on boys and girls of any age. Boys should be strong, tall and ruggedly handsome. Women should be skinny, not too tall and not too short and have a “natural face” but still wear makeup. It’s usually a lose-lose situation.
During the 2020 pandemic, all my friends and I were obsessed with working out and having a glow up for when we finally got to high school. At that time, my brother developed a different obsession— body shaming me.
He made fun of my weight in front of my grandparents and told me it showed when I gained a few pounds. He made comments about how much I was eating, told me I had eaten enough and made me feel terrible about myself. My insecurity drove me to the point of working out two, or even three times a day, directly after lunch and after dinner. I’ve forgiven him because he’s my brother, but I haven’t forgotten.
I believed my stomach shrinking would make me happier, but the obsession rotted my mental health. My camera roll was filled with screenshots of workouts to try. They advertised everything from melting stomach fat, to sexy thighs. I was 14.
My brother quit the body shaming when I threatened him, but why was it so hard to get him to stop? Now I know there was nothing wrong with the way that I looked, but back then I felt like a boulder.
People will do anything to fit into the societal standard of beauty. Girls I know had eating disorders in eighth grade. Women get extensive plastic surgery, whether it’s breast implants or tummy tucks. Men work out to the point they have .1% body fat.The media is a super spreader of toxic beauty culture.
Along with the toxic beauty standard, social media also has a strong body positivity movement. But it only goes so far. Body positivity extends to plus size girls, but not too plus sized. It rarely includes people with physical disabilities, very skinny people and plus sized boys. Body positivity caters to all, but applies to none.
The beauty industry also promotes unhealthy lifestyles in the name of being skinny. Many teenage girls strive for the “Pinterest body,” which is tight A-line abs and a thigh gap as big as an arm. The body type “Cocaine skinny” has come back into trend, and people are glorifying a body deprived of health. There’s nothing glamorous about drug addiction. Beauty trends are dangerous.
What people fail to realize is that there’s nothing wrong with being more than 100 pounds. Beauty is relative, so who cares what you look like? Social media is hardly ever real, and spreads dangerous ideas to young girls and boys. Trust me when I say it’s a difficult road to recognizing your own beauty, but the light is at the end of the tunnel. Like the phrase says, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. So, just be your own beholder.