Body Image Issues

To Anyone Dealing With Body Image Issues, You Are Not Alone

Every body is a bikini body.

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Last week, I looked at my calendar and became anxious when I realized summer is just three weeks away. Three weeks until endless days spent on the beach followed by long nights in the pool with friends. While this may seem like something to look forward to, for a girl with body image issues, it is a disaster.

Personally, I've always been someone who has struggled with my body image. For many people who know me who are reading this, it may come off as a surprise. While I often keep it to myself, I will admit that I find myself wishing I could change my appearance more often than I should. Although I am a healthy weight, I have and always will have a bigger build than some of my friends. No matter how much weight I lose my chest will always be a little bit bigger and my shoulders will always be a little bit broader, but that's just my body.

I didn't realize the problem I had with my body issues until one day in my race to get the perfect figure I crashed. For weeks, I restricted myself to a low carb diet and ate nothing other than salad and fruits if I even ate anything at all. I overworked myself at the gym to the point where I felt sick and could barely get up in the morning. After receiving many compliments about my weight loss from friends, I thought I needed to continue what I was doing. What I didn't realize is that I was hurting myself both physically and mentally in the process.

Each day got harder and harder for me. My poor diet led to me having constant headaches, little to no energy, and no desire to do anything. After working out, I often found myself feeling extremely nauseous and throwing up because my body couldn't handle what I was doing to it. In the mornings, I could barely push myself to get up and get out of bed. I was starting to miss class and avoid social interaction. After about a month of my unhealthy lifestyle, I crashed. I realized that if I didn't start getting myself together again I was going to reach the point of no return.

I slowly started working normal food back into my diet. While my figure may not be where I want it to be, I, for the most part, am healthy again. I will admit, there are times when I go for days where I eat nothing at all. I often catch myself not eating my first meal until 10 at night. However, I have finally realized my problem. Becoming aware of my body image issues and eating problems is the first step to solving the problem as a whole. I know that one day I will feel comfortable in my own skin.

That is just my story. The sad thing is, I know I'm not alone and there are thousands of people with stories out there much worse than mine. I've watched my friends who in my eyes have the perfect figure breakdown over their appearance countless times and make comments about things they wish they could change. It pains me to watch people with such good souls feel so bad about themselves.

Society has shaped us into being so obsessed with our bodies. Children learn by observing and imitating what they see. As little girls, we play with Barbie dolls that have unrealistic figures. The proportions of Barbie dolls occur in less than 1 in every 100,000 women. Yet for some reason, we tend to believe that a Barbie-like figure is beautiful. Growing up, we watch Victoria's Secret commercials and are given the idea that we must look like that to be found attractive. Social media influencers post about positivity and self-love yet almost every social media influencer is sponsored by some sort of waist training or weight loss tea company. What social media leaves out and what we are not taught when growing up is that not everyone has the "perfect" hourglass figure. Everyone has different builds. We are made in different shapes and sizes but that is part of the beauty of being human. Learning to accept that is the first step to loving yourself.

So to anybody dealing with body image issues, you are not alone. Next time you look in the mirror instead of pointing out what you don't like about yourself, point out what you do. Try to look up positive affirmations. There are hundreds of apps out there that you can download on your phone that will send a little burst of positivity to you every day. Instead of creating weight loss goals, et goals focused on becoming the best version of yourself. Finally, remember that no matter your shape or size you are beautiful and you were put on this earth for a reason. The things you hate the most about yourself some people out there would kill for. I know that doing these things are not going to solve all of your issues but they do help a little, I promise. I know it's hard but try to start loving and appreciating yourself. I'll be right there with you.

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“Wow, Your Butt Has Been Getting Bigger…What Have You Been Up To?”

A Letter To Those Who Enjoy Asking Dumb Questions
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Thank God I rarely get this question, being slim and all, but I feel for the girls that do. It is a notion that is prevalent among the Black population, and we know I don’t have to explain why. I am so sick and tired of people coming up with the dumbest ideas and this is one of them, especially when we have such amazing inventions like Google in this day and age. This question is not only embarrassing and an invasion of privacy of the askee (one of my newest words; please bear with me), but it is scientifically and biologically unsound. And as a Biochemistry major, I take pride in research and the distribution of reliable information. So I naturally get irritated whenever I’m being asked this rude question or hear someone saying it to someone else.

This notion is degrading to women everywhere and yet I know people who are ready to swear on their grandmother’s false dentures that it is the truth, and that they’ve seen it happen to their sister or daughter or niece.

“Noo…my cousin Tay-Tay had a flat booty last year! She started doing that guy down the street and now she has hips and a big butt!”

Well the truth is, I don’t care what you think happened to your Cousin Tay-Tay. And apparently, neither does biology.

First of all, before disproving this annoying notion, I am going to state said notion so we know exactly what is implied.

SAID NO TION: This theory states that once a(n) teenage/adult female starts to show signs of hip and gluteus maximus enlargement, she is automatically assumed to be sexually active. Period. End of story. No questions asked. Her misdemeanors are instantaneously concluded and her fate sealed. She is going to hell.

Now that we know the notion, let me give some reasons why people may have this idea, although it’s obviously wrong

  • Some studies say that women do gain weight on their hips and breasts the minute they start making love. According to some researchers, this may be due to the hormone prolactin which stimulates fatherly love and milk production. Especially when orgasm is reached after sex, there is an increase in the blood levels of the hormone. And with the inclusion of humans who suffer hyperprolactinemia (a condition where one has chronically high levels of prolactin), increased blood level of prolactin has been associated with weight gain in some species.
  • A more popular thought is that women get fat after being sexually active for a while because their body parts, for example the hips, butt and breasts, become “disfigured” and loosen up. This is biologically illogical (excuse the alliteration), because having sex involves physical exercise and actually aids in burning off calories, not adding calories.

The publisher went on to disprove this by saying:

"The thing with this research is that the level of prolactin in the blood or prolactin release after sex is a short-term surge and cannot be used o compare a medical condition such as hyperprolactinemia."

So basically speaking, the hormone prolactin that is released during sexual intercourse has only a short-term lifespan and does not account for weight gain in human females.

Scientists argue that due to the fact that during sex, some calories are burned, sex may even tip to favor weight loss by minimal amounts (as already covered) and not weight gain. They also argue that there are no possible means for ejaculated semen to be digested and assimilated into the bloodstream during normal sex and that if it even happened, the number of calories contained in the average ejaculation, which is two to three ml, is 15 calories which in itself is not enough.

So there are the possible reasons as to why some people would still hang on to "Said Notion" and answers disproving them. Now it is a noticeable thing that girls and women who are sexually active and do have sex frequently generally may start to actually put on weight all around. Having cleared the fact that it is as a result of the sex itself, I will give possible reasons why it occurs.

  • First of all, it is good to note that the fact that many people do gain weight after marriage is true both for men and women. This weight gain has nothing to do with sex for men or women but a lot to do with the associated sense of security and the comfort of being in a relationship. Some studies have shown that single people are less likely to eat more than people in a relationship.
  • Another good reason may be that when a woman moves in with a man, since men often require more calories per day and therefore, often eat more, when they eat meals together, she may end up eating the same things with the man in comparable quantities. Together with the security of being in a happy relationship may come a bigger appetite that she may not notice, so you may be eating more than she normally does. This will of course cause her to gain some weight.1
  • A reason for some women to consider may be that they are adding weight because of the birth control pills they are taking. This sure is not for every woman to consider, just those who may be on these pills. Some of the common side effects of these birth control pills are headache, nausea and breast tenderness. But for a few women, the side effect of the pill may include weight gain as a result of fluid retention. This is usually not in significant amounts though and as stated already, not for the majority of women.1 (I thought about this possibility before I looked this up and it is plausible because taking pills and digesting them involves chemical processes which do affect the hormonal balance in a woman’s body. However, effects are said to last only a few months)
  • Some people argue that some certain sex positions can influence the growth of hips and gluts, such as the girl being on top of the guy because she would imitate doing the squat exercise. But think about it. This is, once again, an exercise, hello? It does not increase the size of the fatty cells and tissues in your backside, rather it tones your hips and gluts, making them muscular, not fatter. And for it to even show to the point of being noticeable, the girl would have to be on top for a very long period of time and rather frequently. This all boils down to just using common sense.

There you have it, folks. A complete rundown on why Said Notion should stop being a notion. It is no one’s business what someone else does in their spare time and to have to be openly questioned about it, even as a joke, is pathetic. Boys see younger girls with natural large hips as loose or wayward and feel it’s okay to harass them because they think she’s used to it. I got all this information from Google. If you don’t ow how to use Google, please ask someone to teach you. It isn’t rocket science.

Cover Image Credit: kennethkuykendall

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Eating Disorders Are Not Exclusive To One Body Type

Body image and eating disorders can affect people that are skinny.

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With the start of summer vacation, the issue of eating disorders often flares up. Because more people begin worrying about their size due to fitting into bathing suits or going to public pools during the summer, there is an overall increase in eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, there are at least 30 million people in the U.S. of all genders and ages that suffer from an eating disorder, and every 62 minutes, someone dies from the direct result of an eating disorder.

In addition, body image has been known to have a connection with eating disorders. According to Eating Disorder Hope, body image has been shown to be a protective factor, and having a good body image can reduce the vulnerability for someone to develop an eating disorder. There are some people who think that the only people who worry about their body image or who develop eating disorders tend to be people who are overweight. But as they've forgotten, cases with anorexia and other eating disorders are often focused on people who are skinny.

You're probably thinking, how does someone who is skinny have issues with their body image? Especially since the overall media portrayal of the perfect body size is someone who is skinny? However, what most people don't realize is that people who are skinny are constantly worrying about gaining weight or not being fit. Being skinny is often associated with someone who is fit and healthy. Therefore, you constantly have to worry about maintaining these traits.

In addition, just because you may be skinny does not mean that you are fit or healthy. People who have a fast metabolism, like me, for example, are not always fit. With my fast metabolism, I'm always around the same size no matter what I eat. However, when you have a fast metabolism, it doesn't mean you'll have abs or have toned muscles. And when you have a fast metabolism, it's harder to build up muscle since your body metabolizes quickly.

You also find yourself comparing how fit you are with other women who are skinny, such as models and judging how you look based on others. For example, if you go to the beach wearing a bikini that you felt confident about and then you see someone else who is wearing the same one but appears to have a flatter stomach or more toned muscles then you, you suddenly lose whatever confidence you had built about your body image. Because of this, there are many women who are skinny and can develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

On top of that, in society, there's an overall fear of being overweight. Even when you're already skinny, this fear can still affect you by making you worry about one day losing the status of being skinny. And if you are thin because you lost weight, the fear of gaining the weight back isn't simply going to go away.

And believe it or not, society's perception of the perfect body image is changing. According to The Self Improvement Blog, in recent years curvy hourglass figures are becoming a more popular body image to have rather than being slender. So instead women who are slender will likely encounter issues with their body image due to trying to match the body image that the media portrays as perfect.

The worst part is that there are a lot of people who believe that problems with body image only center around people who are overweight. Some people tell skinny women to "get over it." This, in turn, causes women to feel that they have no one to confide to about their problems with their body image because the media tells them that they don't have a problem. The women may decide to ignore their problem instead of seeking help, which then causes it to worsen and may go from a lack of confidence in their self-image to an eating disorder.

Most people who are dieting to become skinny think that once they reach a certain size, they no longer will worry about their body image. But as discussed earlier, every woman, regardless of what size they are, faces issues with feeling confident about their body image. And the sooner we come to terms with this as a society, the better we will be able to understand the issues with body image and eating disorders.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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