Body Stigma: Women
Body Shaming is one of my biggest pet hates within social media and daily life. It’s such a ridiculous concept which is not what this world needs after everything we go through. By ‘we’ I mean women.
* I understand there is a stigma for men too, however, I’m conducting my focus predominantly on women. *
For women, this is such an awfully common conception. It initially starts in early teen years and progresses into adulthood. So much research has gone into the discovery, history and present issues with body stigma, self-hate and the effects that can be caused from suffering with these circumstances and situations. Body shaming has manifested in individual’s criticizing their own appearance on comparison to someone else, criticizing other’s appearances, and criticizing someone else without them knowing – could just be a helpless stranger in the street. This happens for both men and women but I feel women struggle more with the stigma, the judgement etc.
Women struggle with all sorts of personal troubles:
- Being too fat
- Being too skinny
- Eating too much
- Eating too little
- Eating Disorders
A lot of factors affect girl’s perception of themselves. This can be anything from social media to their own parents insecurities rubbing off on them. Girls become aware a lot more now due to the popularity of social media and the rise of celebrity demand regarding body image, plastic surgery, secrets and traits to “losing weight quickly”. A girl can typically leave the house after having prepared for hours in advance to make sure she looked respectable enough in the public eye. It’s awful the lengths that some girls go through. Last year when I volunteered for a youth work company called NCS which stands for National Citizenship Service. I mentored a group of 15 fifteen to seventeen year old’s with one other mentor. They completed activities for a month, Monday to Friday in regards to society, the world, fun adventure tasks – just different stages of the project to help raise awareness of what the future holds and ways of working together and creating and learning new skills. This one girl I mentored, lovely, sweetest innocent girl I’ve ever met but she would get up 2 hours before leaving to meet the rest of the group and mentors in the morning. It’s insane how much make-up she was wearing too, for a 16-year-old. I wasn’t even allowed to wear makeup at that age!
After some research done on the Body Image Therapy Centre, I came across a group of statistics which clarified the different stages of ages girl and women become aware of things they are going through or did not know they were going through:
- 89% of girls have dieted by age 17
- 15% of young women have disordered eating
- 51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls say they feel better about themselves when they are dieting
- 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
- 9% of nine-year old’s have vomited to lose weight
This discloses that dieting is a popular trend girls seem to acquire over the years. I’ve done it, the whole shebang! It is not worth it, it’s painful, degrading and seriously messes with mental health. This is coming from personal experience and it still messes with me whenever I feel I look too fat or if something doesn’t fit right. It’s not easy being a woman what with all the social media brainwashing every girl on the planet.
I then conducted some research looking for body-hating among teenagers and stumbled across Daily mail’s website page and found an article called 90% of Teens Unhappy with Body Shape. They found in a survey reported from BLISS Magazine that nine out of ten teenage, British girls are unhappy with their bodies. This was linked with the teenagers’ mothers for passing down their own insecurities. Their statistics show that 8% of 2000 girls questioned if they were “happy” with how they look for the poll when the rest of them voted “unhappy”. Doesn’t this say a lot? The reason the mother’s were mentioned was because 90% of the girls who voted “unhappy” believed their mothers had “an insecure body image”. It doesn’t just end here, oh no, further research showed worrying facts about what lengths some girl would go to, to look “perfect”. 26% of 14-year-old girls have considered taking diet pills to lose weight or have plastic surgery. Alongside this, 19% of the girls said they were “already suffering from an eating disorder” (anorexia). An interview done with Helen Johnston, the editor of BLISS Magazine, said:
“Female body image obsession has grown year on year since the 60s and it’s now reached epidemic proportions, filtering down to young girls. Teenage girls look to their mums for guidance only to see them continually worrying about their own body shape and size. Now many girls of 13 and 14 are dieting constantly at an age when their bodies are still developing.”
After making these discoveries, I now know it’s a proven fact that women are going through a lot at the moment and it all boils down to social media, parental influences and friends. It’s why bullying happens, it’s why girls have “bitch fights” and presumabley men have issues with size, height and muscular build.
All I can say to those suffering with body image and self-love, just be kind to yourself. You’ll get there, honestly. It is really about having people around you who make you feel comfortable and happy in your own skin. Those who make you feel beautiful. It sounds so cliché but it really does help. You’re going to have really bad days where your physical appearance repulses you, but you know that when you spend just one day with that special someone, you feel unstoppable. That special someone can be a partner or a best friend or maybe even an adult figure you admire.
Anyway, that’s all for now guys!