Body Stigma: Women

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.

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Women struggle with all sorts of personal troubles:

  • Being too fat
  • Being too skinny
  • Eating too much
  • Eating too little
  • Self-hate
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drug-abusing

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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

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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!

Sending love!

Jessica Wright

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The Low-Down on Depression & Anxiety

The Low-Down on Depression & Anxiety

Hey guys, so I’m new to this and I’m not truly sure on what my goals are in the blog-world, however, I just miss writing and the freedom that is released when I’m immersed in particular topics. My topics may seem random, but I hope you enjoy them!

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When the words ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ pop up, some have this lack of understanding associated with a mental disorder and some disregard this for ‘attention-seeking’. Now, if someone uses a disorder as an excuse to get people to feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for that person for even having to go through all that effort just to receive sympathy. You may be thinking why is that and my answer would be because having a mental disorder sucks! Big time! The fear and stigma associated with mental disorders is starting to improve as more awareness is created for future generations, however, everyone still has their own experiences and ways of dealing with it. This is why I am sharing my story!

Recently, whilst being half-way through my University degree, I unfortunately got hit with this suffocating, lonely form of depression and social anxiety. This may seem like a scary, fancy term that you may not be familiar with, so, I will have to explain this in an easier fashion. So, depression is defined in a number of different ways and affects people differently depending on a number of factors. The symptoms can range between loss of interest in things someone used to enjoy, emotions running all over the place, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and generally being unhappy with a lot of things. All of these symptoms have effected me in one way or another.

I’ve struggled with:

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  • Getting out of bed to attend lectures/meeting friends/making plans
  • Waking up and feeling positive
  • Being happy in general
  • Over-eating habits
  • Drug abuse
  • Lack of motivation
  • Respect for myself
  • Balancing my emotions
  • Self-love
  • Feeling incredibly lonely even though realistically I’m never alone

And to be honest, this is just a short list of many more problems I’ve encountered. Social anxiety ties in with all of this in a way. By smoking too much and over-eating was a coping-mechanism for me whilst I dealt with the, what felt like, never-ending stages of loneliness and unhappiness in my life. The fear of just stepping one foot out of my flat and the worry of strangers in the street judging me absolutely terrified me. I was left each day feeling drained and fed up with what I had let myself get to. Oh, and the blame! I put it all on myself.

“Why had I let myself go like this?”

“No one would ever want me.”

“I absolutely hate myself.”

“I’m single because I’m unappealing to the eye.”

The lack of self-love and self-respect I had for myself left me at such a low. I felt like nobody truly enjoyed my presence, I didn’t have a purpose whatsoever, everything I did was wrong, I was likely to die alone and own 3 cats – you know, typical negative connotations of my life. Self-love and self-respect are the key parts of what makes someone with depression feel whole again. Now, I’m not saying that I have completely conquered my mental disorder, but I’m slowly starting to heal and I’m more aware of my emotions and how to control them. If I have days where I just want to lounge about in bed, I have to be strict with myself if I have priorities. Sure, I still have my bad days, but who doesn’t? Life is hard and a lot of obstacles get in the way of our success, but where does success come from if we don’t make mistakes and hard decisions along the way?

I try to find happiness in those around me and accomplishments that I make – even the easy, day-to-day stuff. For instance, just doing my washing! Sounds bizarre, right? Having clean clothes is easy to do, but for some this can be such a draining, frustrating task if all you want to do is lay in bed, cry and pity yourself. This is why I want to get back into writing; to let my creativity flow and give myself a stepping stone to recovery. I recommend for anyone who is struggling to try to find a therapeutic way of dealing with their frustration, anger, loneliness etc. Drawing, sketching – anything artsy is always a good first step. Audiotapes, relaxation music and meditation helps too – it helps me a lot. Perhaps playing an old instrument you haven’t touched in years or singing. Having positive, understanding people in your life is a must too. I’ve had to detach myself from people who make me weaker, who do no good for me except question myself. Sometimes you just have to be selfish and do what is right for you and nobody could fault you for that. And if they do, then they are not worth your time. Trust me. Sometimes even escaping reality for a while is perfect for the bad days. Don’t be afraid to go on day trips or weekends away – just, again, make sure you surround yourself with people who make you feel secure and don’t be afraid to speak out. Help is out there and sometimes it can be right in front of you; a family member or a friend or even your next door neighbor!

All I can really say to someone if they are battling a mental disorder is, be kind to yourself. You are not to blame and it is going to be OK. The world is a funny place and all you have to do is to live. Breathe. Just do what makes you happy. I struggle with all the negativity that consumes me, but I’m still here; I’m still pushing through my struggles. And you’re never alone, even though you may feel like the loneliest person on the planet. You’re not. You are beautiful and special and just need to find yourself again. After all, you never know what is waiting for you around the corner!

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That’s it for now.

Love to all!

 

Jessica Wright