Tell Young Girls and Boys How You Love Your Body (and mean it)
We are the most self-conscious, low-self-esteemed, malnourished generation to ever live and it’s getting worse every day. With every Maybelline commercial, Victoria Secret Fashion Show, newest edition of Sports Illustrated, famous “Imshmacked” account post, featuring only the most ill-clothed (and oh by the way probably anorexic) females, overly-edited/overly-surgically-modified Kardashian post, popular-teen-Netflix-binge-watch-series depicting the “perfect American girl” (not naming names but Gossip Girl 2001-2012), and the list goes on, it’s getting worst. In case you are unaware of just how prevalent eating disorders are amongst people of all ages, genders, and sizes, here are some basic statistics reported in 2017:
- At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.
- Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
- The number of children with hospitalized eating disorders has shot up 72 percent in 10 years.
- Genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all combine to create risk for an eating disorder.
From this list, I’m sure you have already concluded that environmental factors are the main contribution to the rise in eating disorders within our generation due to the fact that genetics, and personality traits are unchanging factors. And by environmental factors, I mean medias societal stereo types that are portrayed, and unfortunately unavoidable, for our technology-crazed generation.
Kids are practically coming out of the womb watching television and they’re getting iPhones by the age of six (2017 study). By the same age, they’re having access to social media and the abundancies of the internet. As technology feens ourselves, we know what this access entails, and the societal pressures that can come with media if we allow it to become too big a part of our lives— greed, and self-doubt.
And if you think you have societal pressures now as a matured adult, think of the societal pressures of the children. Media is giving them disgustingly unrealistic expectations for their social lives and appearance at the age of just six years old. It’s no wonder our generation is experiencing an epidemic of eating disorders.
How can we fix it?
It’s simple really, tell young girls and boys the truth. Tell them that these computer-generated images are false depictions of human capabilities. Tell them that the model in the picture truthfully doesn’t look like that. Tell them God made them in His image and likeness and He does not desire for them to look like a paper-cut-out of the “hottest” celebrity. He wishes for them to look like them because uniqueness is what sets us apart as individuals. Tell them that difference is something to embrace, not shun away from. And finally, tell young girls and boys how you yourself love your body, and mean it, because it’s yours and there’s not a single one out their exactly like it. We can’t expect children to love their bodies if we ourselves can not love ours. To come to love your body probably means change for you, make it. Because truth is, the only way to change society is to first, change yourself. We can’t expect children to rise above the take over of illustrious media until they know the world will accept them as they are. This acceptance comes in one simple, primary form: acceptance from those adults closest to them, and exemplary self-loving. How beautiful of a movement would that be? Accepting others for their different shapes and sizes, all while loving our own shape and size. Imagine the lives we’d save.