I will not be ignored!

Everyone wants to have friends. The best places to make friends are social gatherings or at the work place. However, how can you make friends if no one is looking at you; if you are being ignored; if you are invisible? Most people are guilty of the fact that their first judgment about someone is their looks. I’m embarrassed to say that I myself, when having to be in group assignments, or picking partners, always lean towards the more appealing person. Skinnier people, regardless of their actual beauty, are always considered more beautiful than curvy women.

A blog called, The Body Image Project lets individuals submit personal stories which the blog posts on their behalf, anonymously. One particular twenty-one year old says, “I can trace my weight gain to high school – sixteen and at a new school where I ended up a very lonely girl; no one talked to or bothered to learn my name. I became completely sedentary when the depression of being invisible hit.” Depression is so prevalent in high school. Teenagers are so mean to each other.  If you aren’t pretty and popular, you are not considered cool. If you are not cool then no one is going to talk to you. If no one talks to you then you’re an outcast. If you are an outcast then depression, weight gain, and/or psychological illnesses may develop

Which women is more qualified? Body size does not define intelligence.

A forty-five year old says, “…I’ll be somewhere and see how younger and much thinner women get all the attention. They may even be not as attractive, they can have a not-so-pleasant personality even, but if they’re thin, they will always get looked at first – both in social gatherings or on the job.” When it comes to making friends or getting a job offer, the skinnier, more beautiful individual will most likely get the job over the curvier individual. In the business world, it is known that the taller you are and the better you look, the more likely you’ll get the position. How is that fair?

Many people are guilty of judging people by their appearance, myself included. Whether it is at a social gathering or at the business place, we naturally gravitate to the more beautiful people. It has now become our job and responsibility to stop this judgment.  Just because someone is curvier, it doesn’t mean they are less competent or have a lesser personality.

References:

Thebodyimageproject.blogspot.com

http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/11/03/why-do-obese-women-earn-less-than-thin-women-and-obese-men/

Cawley, J. (2003, January). The Impact of Obesity on Wages. Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3559022?uid=3739936&uid=2134&uid=2486310823&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=2486310813&uid=3739256&uid=60&sid=21105214059653

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Ladies, it’s not enough for you to do great in a sport, you have to look “great” too.

Sports – one of the oldest forms of competition in human history. Through intense, physical training the human body becomes robust and hardened. Consequently, when we think of athlete, our society thinks of these slim bodies with well-toned muscles. It’s probably expected that we would picture an athlete to look such away because of the amount of conditioning needed for sport. More specifically, the female athlete is often thought of to be slender. With such expectations, is there a possibility of a curvy female athlete?

Leisel Jones is an Australian eight-time Olympic medalist in women’s swimming.  In 2012, a newspaper known as the Herald Sun pointed out that her figure was wider in contrast to her figure in 008. The organization then proceeded to create a poll asking if she was fit to swim in the 2012 London Olympics. Immediately however, many Olympians and health advocates had sided with Jones and demanded that the poll be taken down. What is interesting about this particular athlete is that despite what some had perceived as a body that was “unfit” she had won three gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze medal – clearly she was a superb athlete. It should also be noted that she was 16 when she first swam in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Such reactions pose the question of whether or not young women are not only expected to perform up to standard, but to look like a standard.

Another topic interest concerning curvy female athletes can be found in the sport of cheerleading. Cheerleading has been an American cultural icon since the latter half of the Twentieth Century; especially amongst high school-aged children and college students. But one stereotype has persisted throughout its history – cheerleaders are slim-figured. A 2010 study conducted at the University of South Carolina had found that female college cheerleaders are often self-conscious about their figure, partly because of how revealing their uniforms are. The participants were also asked about how they thought their parents and coaches viewed their bodies in relation to body image, and the study concluded that most felt they did not match their coaches’ ideal picture of body image. As a result, the study also notes that many of these young women were at risk for eating disorders, all in the pursuit of what they felt was an ideal body image.

With this in mind, one particular case worthy of examination is the Oklahoma City Thunderers cheerleader, Kelsey Williams. In April 2013, a blogger wrote a post about her titled, “Is this girl too Chunky to be an OKC Cheerleader?” The article was followed by a poll asking readers if Willimas “Had the perfect look,” “Could use some tightening up in her mid-section,” or even if “she has no business wearing that outfit in front of people.” The article received immediate backlash and the author of the blog was labeled a “bully” and a “mean girl.” What is interesting about this case is that despite not having the body image that some perceive fit to be a cheerleader, the young woman has made a successful career in the sport.

In the end, is it not enough for a woman to perform a sport, does she need to look a certain way too?

Sources

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/olympics-fourth-place-medal/public-pushes-back-against-fat-comments-aussie-swimmer-191640600–oly.html

http://www.livescience.com/9945-cheerleaders-risk-eating-disorders-study-finds.html

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/oklahoma-city-thunder-cheerleader-kelsey-williams-called-chunky-19064805

Boys have feelings too!

Men experience the same issues that women do. However, men do not talk about their feelings as much as women, so many of their issues go unknown and hidden. Young boys who are considered bigger than their classmates and peers go through a lot of issues dealing with their weight.  Many are also teased and/or uncomfortable in their own skin.

If all your friends looked like this, and you were the only one with some fat on your stomach, would you still feel comfortable playing with them?

What if young children took steroids to compete with their friends and to fit in?

Julie Z, had an interview with Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. During the interview about Kimmel’s book, Julie asks Kimmel to discuss how men and women define their masculinity/ femininity through their own body images. When people read the headline,  “Women Dissatisfied With Their Bodies,” Kimmel says the underlying headline actually is, “Men Tend To See Themselves As Just About Perfect.” Kimmel then continues to say, “We no longer see our bodies as just about perfect. We are at work on our bodies, also. We go to the gym, we work out, we take steroids.” Younger boys now have so much pressure to be good at sports in order to prove how  masculine they are. If they are bigger and not as muscular as others, their insecurities could sometimes kidnap them from being able to play with their friends.

Almost all kids play sports when they’re young. Did you know that a lot of boys who are bigger feel self conscious playing sports with skinnier/more fit guys? A senior from University Michigan states, “Gym class was tough, I was always out of shape. It never really interfered in team events or sporting but there was a sense of insecurity that spawned from the company around me.” Although his insecurities did not affect his playing, he still stated that,“it has always been an extremely pressing concern in my mind.” When asked how he felt about playing shirts vs. skins, this student stated he would have rather sat out then being a part of the game.

When Prateek Gupta, a junior from Washington University in St. Louis was asked the question, “Were you self conscious because of what your friends thought about you?”, he quickly answered with, “Definitely.” Although he was not uncomfortable playing sports in general, he also attempted to avoid shirts vs. skins sports games at all times possible.

Both of these college students say that they are no longer affected by what others think about their body.  However, while growing up, their body image was something they continuously thought about and felt embarrassed of.  This shame affected the way they associated with their friends. Adolescence is a time that all teenagers and pre-teens are concerned about their body- not just girls. Boys have just as many anxieties and worries about their body image, however they are not spoken for.

Young boys are affected just as much as young girls about their body, unfortunately, they are not getting the same attention as girls on this issue.

 

 

 

 

Sources:
http://thefbomb.org/2012/06/an-interview-with-michael-kimmel/

Princesses aren’t so perfect

The idea of “skinny is beautiful” becomes ingrained in children’s minds at such young ages.  Disney Princesses could be one reason for this phenomenon. All of the Disney Princesses that are beloved by the world are are tall, skinny and beautiful.  From these Disney movies, many young individuals learn that the only way to receive a boy’s attention and be happy is to be beautiful.  According to the portrayals in these movies, being “beautiful” is defined as being thin.  Rebecca Sternberg wrote an article about “the Disney Effect” and talks about the fact that the first six Disney princess that were created were all slim, tall. beautiful girls.

Urusula from “The Little Mermaid”

Research shows that girls expressed greater body image dissatisfaction scores after they watch Disney Movies. In all of the fairy tales that we have been told, the heroic prince and princess are always portrayed as beautiful and “good”, however the evil characters are perceived as ugly and mean, (Asawarachan, 2013).  In most of the Disney movies, the beautiful characters are never shown to be “bad”.  Disney characters help to uphold the stereotype of “what is beautiful is good” (Bazzini, Curtin, Joslin, Regan & Martz, 2010). Ursula from The Little Mermaid, is an evil octopus who tries to steal King Triton’s throne. Her character is not only ugly, but is also fat. This just reinforces to children that you will only be liked if you are skinny and beautiful.

Joanna Morelli, a junior at James Madison University, shared with me her view on Disney’s portrayal of princesses.  She stated that Disney princesses give children an unrealistic expectation of beauty and said, “I’ve always wanted to have Ariel’s body. Even in middle school I was still convinced that was the perfect body.” She then went on to tell me how she believed Disney Princess movies contain many bad values, therefore will not allow her children watch these movies in the future. These movies have many negative impacts on young children- especially when it comes to body issues. Lastly she says, “In order to get a realistic view of body image, people need to distance themselves from media and movies. Coming to college has definitely helped me broaden my views.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/30/disney-princess-real-waistline_n_6076634.html

Ariel on the left is the way Disney created her, on the right is how she would look with a real waistline. Morelli wanted to look like Disney’s Ariel all her life. Maybe if Disney made Ariel look like the picture on the right, Morelli would be happier with her body.

The influence of these princesses on individuals all over the world is immense.  Personally, I have always wanted to have the body of Jasmine. Not only is she pretty, she also is skinny and powerful. Until recently, I have never really noticed how much these beloved Disney Princesses and Princes affect individuals.  If just Disney movies can have such long lasting effects on girls and women, what other negative influences are there that we do not even realize exist?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/30/disney-princess-real-waistline_n_6076634.html

Jasmine the way Disney created her, and Jasmine with a real waistline.

If you want to see more Disney Princesses with real waistlines click here!

Sources:

https://storify.com/sternb13/the-disney-princess-effect-on-young-girls-and-femi

Bazzini, D., Curtin, L., Joslin, S., Regan, S., & Martz, D. (2010). Do animated Disney characters portray and promote the beauty-goodness stereotype? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(10), 2687-2709. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271773/m2/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf

Be a man, man up!

The concept of body image is an ever-changing notion that a person must look a certain way, for society to call them beautiful. Today, the media is obsessed with displaying pictures and videos of women who are generally very skinny and often employ the use of image doctoring to get their point across. But what also seems to be under the radar for much of society’s attention, is the ideas and perceptions of male body image. While women are expected to be thin and have larger breasts or thicker hips, men are often expected to have a very athletic ability, preferably tall and muscular. In a sense, many females are usually trying to lose weight, while many young males are trying to gain weight through muscle mass. Even characteristics such as the size of a man’s genitals are taken into consideration when determining how much of a “man” someone is. It’s not uncommon that negative characteristics of personality in males, are sometimes attributed to having a small penis.

 A website called My Body Gallery for Men is a blog dedicated to sharing stories about body image from the perspective of men. While there are indeed submissions from overweight men, one striking difference from the women’s section is that more submissions in the men’s section are about looking older, bigger and being heavier. One submission titled, “Small Guy with a Big Heart,” is a brief window into the experiences of a 29 year-old man and his struggles with body image. I found that I was able to relate to a lot of his experiences such as being asked for a identification when purchasing items he was old enough to buy (such as alcohol at a bar). He later writes, “I joined this site so that smaller guys can understand that some of them won’t gain mass (like many advertisements say) and they should appreciate what they have and not be dissapointed.”

         Upon reading the nameless authors post, I found it striking how at a glance, he seemed physically large but in reality, he was very thin being 5’-8” and weighing only 119 lbs. I find that many males in my generation can relate to working out at the gym and taking lots of supplements and protein rich foods to gain muscle mass, or even to replace fat with muscle. But what really strikes me is that he, a third year nursing student reveals the fact that some men will just simply not be able to gain large amounts of muscle mass such as himself. He notes as well, that, “I also want the bigger people to understand that it’s equally difficult to become smaller.”

 In the past 20 years and beyond, the millennial generation of males will often see media that depicts males with chiseled abs and large muscles often times these images depict these men as essentially being dominant. As such, young men are often quick to boost the perception of their masculinity through boasting about how much they can bench-press. This begs the question, why are young boys so concerned about their not-yet fully developed bodies being so different from what they see in the media?

 Aside from the media, another source of perfectionist body-image ideas may come from a young man’s family and friends. The phrase, “man up” or “take it like a man” build upon the idea that a young man needs to not only be strong, but burry his emotion and mask pain with bluntness. Such pressure creates feelings of inadequacy and can lead to even extreme attempts at trying to fit society’s idea of manliness. A study conducted in 2012, published in the Journal of of the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that 34.7% of middle—school and high-school aged children used protein supplements and 5.9% reported steroid use. Most behaviors were significantly more common among boys. The study later concluded that the sharp increase in recent years is a major cause for concern by pediatricians.

 While women have certainly been under a similar scrutiny for years, especially younger women, the point here is that everyone is a victim of the media. It is without question that women standing up to the media’s hypocrisies are indeed a victory, but why is it that the male audience remains silent? Growing up, I myself questioned if any male could have ever questioned what we saw. Do the expectations society holds have such a profound influence, that one cannot simply “man up” and talk about it?

 

Sources:

Eisenberg, M. E., Wall, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2012, November 19). Muscle-enhancing Behaviors Among Adolescent Girls and Boys. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Blog – http://mybodygalleryformen.com/blog-248-Small-Guy-With-a-Big-Heart.htm

Curvy is not “inadequate”.

For some women, an extremely lean figure is just not in the cards. McCall Dempsey just happened to be one of these girls.  She has written a blog all about her journey through life and through beating her eating disorder.  From discovering and admitting to her disease- to overcoming it.  Her blog is titled “Loving Imperfections” and her story is incredible.

Throughout high school, McCall was ridiculed and embarrassed because she was not considered “skinny enough” or “pretty enough” based on society’s standards.  This led her to develop an eating disorder- first anorexia, and then bulimia.  She kept a food diary, a workout journal, a weight journal, and an overall diary.  McCall stated that this disease consumed her life and took away some of the best times of her life.  Finally, she realized that she could no longer succumb to society’s pressures and checked herself into a treatment facility.  She is now healthy, happy, and has one of the top health blogs according to Health Line.

McCall has several blog posts about her previous body dissatisfaction and reasons for it.  Staring at unbelievably thin models in magazines and looking up to skinny, beautiful celebrities definitely had an impact on her self-loathe.  In addition to her story, McCall’s blog led me to the National Eating Disorders website, which has “Stories of Hope”.  These stories are personal narratives of those that are recovering from eating disorders.  In several of the posts, women described themselves as “curvy” or “big boned”, which made them feel inadequate or “fat” due to what many people believed to be beautiful and skinny.  The media has convinced the population that thin= beautiful.  The insane and unattainable figures of men and women in the media have convinced people that they need to push these standards on to their own bodies; no matter the price.  As media becomes more and more popular all over the world, disordered eating is also becoming more prevalent. Coincidence?

Several studies have been done over the years that have shown a strong correlation between body dissatisfaction and mass media exposure.  Body dissatisfaction is then shown to cause eating disorders.  One research study conducted was a longitudinal study on adolescent girls that had barely been introduced to television.  Three years after the researchers made television become a part of the girls’ lives, it was recorded that “11.3% of the girls in the sample had confessed to vomiting with the goal of controlling their weight,” (Lopez-Guimera, Levine, Sanchez-carracedo, & Fauquet, 2010).  Once television was introduced, it was also found that 74% of the girls reported feeling fat and the percentage of girls with high leveled disordered eating attitudes more than doubled from 13% to 29% (Lopez-Guimera et al).  It has also been found in other research studies that girls who frequently read articles about diets and weight loss in beauty magazines are seven times more likely to practice unhealthy weight control behaviors. These same girls studied were also six times more likely to engage in “extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors (Utter 2003).

It’s no secret that the media affects culture and opinions in the public.  However, should we give media the right to make us feel inadequate and unsatisfactory?  Curvy is just as beautiful as skinny is; the media does not get to decide this. McCall’s story of overcoming her eating disorder and making the decision to feel beautiful again is an influential story that we should all be reflecting on and taking into consideration.  Her story and the stories I read in “Stories of Hope” really affected my way of thinking about media and its influence.  I will no longer give media the authority to make me feel inferior. McCall helped me to realize that beauty is something that cannot be seen, and definitely cannot be defined by the media.

 

Sources-

Lopez-Guimera, G., Levine, M.P., Sanchez-carracedo, D., & Fauquet, J. (2010). Influence of mass media on body image and eating disordered attitudes and behaviors in females:   A review of effects and processes. Media Psychology, 13(4), 387-416.

Utter J, Neumark-Sztainer D, Wall M, Story M. (2003). Reading magazine articles about dieting and associated weight control behaviours among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health32(1). 78–82.

 

Blog- http://www.mccalldempsey.com