The Unimportance of Body Insecurities

Within the last several years, teenage girls have become more self-conscious of their body or how they look because of pictures on the media and unrealistic-looking models. Olympic athletes, beauty pageant participants, doctors, country leaders, and even everyday citizens are taking action to change the negativity surrounding body image and start helping girls believe that their body is beautiful.     

India, Israel, Italy, Spain, and now France have all joined in the movement to protect models from eating disorders. Models in these countries are required to provide a medical certificate that verifies that they are physically healthy. Modeling agencies are subject to being charged $87,105 and up to six months in jail for failing to provide a proper medical certificate.

Although the body mass index of the models is not required, doctors have urged the importance; the average model’s BMI is much lower than that of a healthy person. For example, a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, an eighteen is malnourished, and a seventeen is severely malnourished, yet the average model has a BMI of sixteen. These results also concluded that female models weigh twenty-three percent less than the average woman. The average US woman is 5’4 and weighs 140 pounds while the average US model is 5’11 and weighs 115 pounds. That says a lot about how unrealistic the goals are set for the youth of today. Models in magazines, online advertisements, TV commercials, and social media pictures force the youth to believe that they need to look just like that underweight, excessively-edited picture of a model. However, nearly every picture we see, whether in a magazine or on TV, is retouched or edited in some way or another. Katherine Record, deputy director for the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, found that “seventy percent of girls ages ten to eighteen report that they define the perfect body image based on what they see in magazines.”

To change the negative insecurities teenagers hold, popular figures are starting campaigns, standing for what they believe in, and bringing awareness to the topic. Dove, a personal care brand, started The Dove Self-Esteem Project more than thirteen years ago. Their mission is to help young people realize their full potential. On their website, visitors can find pages and pages of resources for youth, teachers, mentors, and parents that explain the facts, statistics, and information behind the topic of body image. The Be Real Campaign, a Dove-supported campaign that has similar aims and goals as other body-positivity movements, is “determined to change attitudes to body image and help all of us put health above appearance and be confident in our bodies.”

Several days ago, participants in the Miss Peru 2018 redefined beauty pageants. Instead of giving their body measurements, they gave shocking statistics on violence against women in their country. “My name is Camila Canicoba,” said the first woman to take the microphone, “and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of murdered women reported in the last nine years in my country.” Another participant stated, “More than seventy percent of all women suffer street harassment.” Another contestant said, “More than twenty-five percent of Peruvian girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.” Each of the twenty-three contestants provided the audience, and everybody watching on live TV, with some sort of statistic. Additionally, the typical beauty pageant questions, “Who is the most influential person in your life?” or “If you were given the chance to change something from the past, what would it be?” were replaced with questions about the violence of women in their country. The pageant’s goal was to not only highlight the importance of women’s safety but to help the audience understand the triviality of body measurements.

Models, whether they be on stage or in an advertisement, set an unrealistic goals for many people, especially teenage girls. Acceptance is key when it comes to loving yourself where you are. The youth of today must realize the importance of loving your body no matter what it looks like.

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