By Stephanie Ball
When I was a high school junior, more than nine years ago, a relative told me I looked heavier. At 5 feet 7 inches, I weighed 140 pounds and had never cared about my weight until that day. I feel I should be able to look past the perceived image of beauty, but it is not easy.
As warmer weather approaches, my frustration grows with the negative perception of what constitutes physical beauty.
I want to be able to look past the negativity, but even today I stare at my reflection in the mirror dissecting every visible flaw. Nothing I try on seems good enough.
It is nearly impossible to listen to the radio or watch TV without being bombarded with advertisements for weight loss or plastic surgery.
One out of four college-aged women uses unhealthy weight-loss measures including fasting, skipping meals and self-induced vomiting, according to www.media-awareness.ca.
At Brookhaven College, it is not uncommon to overhear girls discussing weight-related issues. According to www.about-face.org, thinness has not only come to represent attractiveness but has also come to symbolize success, self-control and higher socioeconomic status.
Girls are posting videos and images of themselves in the latest YouTube “Am I Ugly” trend, a series of videos where viewers rate looks. Women and men seem to value the input of friends and family more than their own impression of what they see in the mirror.
After the comment, I constantly watched my food portions, limited sweets and walked at least 40 minutes every day to and from classes. As a college junior, I dropped to 115 pounds. I did not have a goal weight or a plan. I just did not want to be thought of as heavier.
I never knew one person’s comments could have such a negative impact on my self-perception. Even though I was skinnier, I was still self-conscious and unhealthy. As the years have passed, I have eaten more and gained some pounds back. I am trying to control my weight by walking and running at least three days out of the week and eating healthier food.
While walking around the mall, I find it hard to ignore my own imperfections when I am bombarded with images of Abercrombie and Fitch models who look like they were chiseled out of stone. At Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 the mannequins are so thin the clothes are clipped and pinned together to fit correctly. I see these images and am disgusted by them, yet I still buy Cosmopolitan and InStyle magazines.
According to the documentary “Killing Us Softly 4,” models are airbrushed and trying to fit into a size-2 outfit, but designers are making clothes for double-zero models. The models are having a hard time losing weight to wear the unrealistic sizes.
How can people live up to these standards?
When I hear an offensive comment about a person’s weight, I think about the struggles they may have been through.
There was once a time when women with curves such as Marilyn Monroe were seen as healthy and beautiful.
Now I wonder whether future generations will know curves at all, especially if we have girls posting “hot or not” videos for all to pick apart and judge.
Students can visit www.walkerwellness.com and www.theelisaproject.org for local support about eating disorders.