Northwest Missourian Opinion

Body image should mean feeling beautiful within our own skin; however, most teenagers feel insecure about their appearance on a daily basis.

According to Heart of Leadership, 52 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This rises to 78 percent by the time girls reach the age of 17.

Many teenagers struggle to accept their bodies. Some think they are “too fat,” others think they are “too skinny.” According to Culture and Youth studies, 52 percent of teens feel like the media pressures them to change their body image.

This is because there are many advertisements on social media; especially celebrity endorsements which are portraying negative effects. As the rise of digital media has increased, advertisements have become more influential than ever. About 56 percent of teens feel media advertisements are the main cause of low self-esteem.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian promote various products in order to gain money. I have seen many weight loss products, protein shakes and skincare products for a unblemished face being promoted on her page, which doesn’t provide teens with a positive mind if all they see are products to make themselves look different.

Teens want celebrities that act as role models and promote a positive impact in society, but if they just promote products primarily for revenue, it shows that celebrities are not bothered about how others perceive them.

Body image is also a major problem within the modelling industry. There is always the stereotype of seeing skinny models on the catwalk and rarely anybody of color or other body types.

There has been a rise in plus-size models recently with the likes of Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence; however, there is still a long way to go before they are fully accepted. The modelling industry criticizes plus-size models as they automatically consider them “fat” and “unhealthy.”

Not everyone has a slim figure, so having a community where other body types are accepted should be accessible for teens so they don’t feel anxious and self-conscious about how they look. Plus size doesn’t mean being fat; it means having a body type which is not the stereotypical norm.

In addition, teens are also addicted to having the ‘perfect selfie’ as the pressures to be thin and beautiful are plastered all over social media, especially Instagram. I see a lot of teens, even people within my own friendship circle, who edit their photos excessively to try and look a certain way. This is very damaging to a young teen’s mental health, especially since they are easily influenced.

According to a study published in The Journal of Early Adolescence, teens who post more selfies online have an increased awareness of their appearance, which links to negative body image.

This can link with teens needing validation, so they post unrealistic photos on their platforms to gain more attention, hence editing them constantly for others’ approval. The pressure to have the perfect photo can affect their self-consciousness as they only want to show the ‘good’ side of their life.

The amount of pressure that teens face now now is more overwhelming than it was when I was younger. There are now a lot of media platforms that are damaging, plus there are many ways in which teens can get easily influenced, whether that’s on social media or even peer pressure.

There is always something published online that can affect someone, but there needs to be precautions in place to stop the pressure and negativity from going too far.

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