Learning to love your looks
They say that nobody’s perfect. Is that really true? Aren’t we all perfect in our own way? There are no two identi- cal people in the world but we all seem to share a common
need to want to fit in; to want to be the same as everyone else in one way or another.
“Her hips are perfect.” “I want his mus- cles.” “Her face is flawless.” “She has such a thin waist.” “I want her boobs.”
No matter what we look like, there’s always going to be someone who is that much closer to perfection than us. But what is perfection? Perfection means fitting in, being popular, getting the girl or guy of our dreams, being constantly adored by everyone. Doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, this is the message that is being sent across to adults, teenagers, and children alike every day. Only, not many people seem to realise that this idea of perfection only exists in fairytales or worlds where heavy airbrushing, clever make-up and soft lenses reign supreme. Where has this idea of perfection come from and why are we allow- ing it to warp the minds of young people so much that extreme outcomes like eat- ing disorders are now being found amongst children as young as seven and eight years old?
It’s unfortunate that we have to put the majority of the blame on the media but the facts can’t be denied. The rise in celebrity culture means that we now turn to our beloved movie stars and singers to gossip about. As the gossip grows, so
do the amount of candid photographs taken by the paparazzi, and the celebri- ties began to notice that without their makeup artist, they look ‘normal.’ Nor- mality does not a superstar make so the celebs soon realise that the weight has to come off and the botox be applied by the week.
The fight to become thinnest is the main issue that’s taken over the world. The more protruding bones onscreen, the better. Every week, more magazines are printed with images of slender celebrities sprawled across the cov- ers, sharing their secrets on how they unnecessarily lost “two stone in three weeks!” Is it any wonder that insecurities begin to fall upon so many young peo- ple when this sort of message is coming straight at them from these magazines every week? There are no ‘plus-size’ role models for young people to look up to
used in every single media source, teen- agers are also looking at an image that is actually physically impossible to attain. Emma Thayer, the head of drama at Broadoak Mathematics and Comput- ing College in Weston-Super-Mare, has witnessed firsthand the affect this world of celebrity has had on the teens she teaches: “The media have so much sway with teenagers and what they consume, how they behave and how they view themselves and others. Since I’ve been teaching, I have noticed comments from girls and boys alike to be far more con- centrated on the ‘perfect’ aesthetic and the fear of weight gain.”
So what can we do about this? It is teen- agers that are the first to get affected by this. Their doubts and insecurities are doubled by the magazines they read. They’re brainwashed into thinking there’s a certain way they have to look and, with these doubts, come the eventual spiral into eating disorders and bullying - two devastat- ing problems that have grown rapidly in the last ten years. Luckily, these affects haven’t gone un- noticed.
Last year, nearly 50,000 people joined together and petitioned for the government to take more action against the escalating problems. They suggested that an extra hour of PSHE (Per- sonal, Social and Health Education) a year dedi- cated to positive body image could help begin to tackle the confidence issues many young peo- ple face, and reinforce a positive attitude on how they view themselves.
Some of the lesson plan material being suggest- ed is making teens fully
these days. Back in the ‘50s, young girls wanted to be like Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren: women who’d be consid- ered too ‘rotund’ for today’s standards. And with the added technology of airbrushing - a technique that has the tools to alter a person so much, they become unrecognisable – now being
aware of the techniques magazines and fashion houses employ to make celebs appear perfect; inventing challenges to help the teens not to obsess so much over their outside appearance; and hav- ing talks held by outside professionals and experts.
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