Body Image in the Technological Age
My interest in this project first sparked in our class unit on eating disorders. It was there that I learned how broad of a range there is in these types of disorders. As I did more research, I found that majority of the population being affected are young girls. In the technological age, young girls are constantly confronted with what they are taught to be the “perfect body.” This influence often leads young women to develop negative views of their body and possibly eating disorders as well. I am really connected to this project because I remember very well what it was like to be younger and feel completely uncomfortable in my own body.
The main focus of my project is to shed light on the impact of the media on body image, particularly in adolescent girls. Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror. How you feel about your body shape, height, and weight affects the way you view yourself. In the media today, the standards for “fit,” “attractive,” or “good” bodies are so unrealistic especially because many of the images are photoshopped. Girls today often connect their learned standards of beauty to how they see themselves, which ultimately affects how they evaluate self-worth. The impact of negative body image on young girls leads them to a distorted perception of their shape, feeling ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious. People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss. We all may have our days when we feel awkward or uncomfortable in our bodies, but the key to developing positive body image is to recognize and respect our natural shape and learn to overpower those negative thoughts and feelings.
My proposed solution is to make a short film raising awareness about the unattainable body standards the media has set. I created a video that shares the stories of girls who have been particularly affected. In this video, I wanted to show a range of younger and older girls to exemplify that anyone can be susceptible to this type of deceit and what it ultimately does to their developing psyche. In making my video, many of the girls expressed concern about it being public. In order to make the most honest video and accomplish my goal, I promised them I would not include it in my presentation. The effects of mass media warped body standards were best put by an eighth-grade girl I interviewed at my school. She shared with me that “seeing the overwhelming reminders of “conventional beauty” in magazines, ads, and movies altered [her] thoughts on [her] own self-worth. There were days when [she] did not know what to wear to school. [She] did not want to look “fat” and only wanted to fit in.” I do plan to use this video however as a starting point with the administration at my school to start the process of implementing my solution. I hope to share this video with other young girls in hopes that it educates them on the ramifications of these standards.
The next step in my process is to talk to the administration at my school about creating student support groups for girls experiencing these types of issues. In this group, I would want to open with this video to let girls know they are not alone. I want to create a safe space on my campus that will continue to be a place of shelter even after I graduate. I also will push for guest speakers on body image, healthy eating/ living, and eating disorders. I hope this video provided insight into the minds of young girls going through these struggles. With this project, I plan to help my immediate community, but in the future, I hope to reach a broader audience and work on something globally impactful like the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign. Dove launched a billboard campaign that featured groups of “real,” diverse women in their underwear. An ad such as this is especially powerful because it connects with all types of women and praises individual beauty.
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