“Ummm I’m a dude and I’ve never had an eating disorder!” This was typically my opening line that I would share with patients at an eating disorder/anxiety clinic, after working there for eight and a half years I have learned a ton about eating disorders. I have learned even more when you combine that time with being a teacher in regards to body image. The two aren’t always linked and yet people think they are synonymous; eating disorders and body image. I have always struggled with the skin that I was put in and I know what it is like to feel all alone even when I am in a crowd so on that level I can connect with the patients that were at the clinic I worked at as well as those of us who struggle with our own bodies.
I was in college and in one of my Communication classes the professor showed a video called “Killing Us Softly” where a woman named Jean Kilbourne who used to be an advertising executive turned social feminist talks about the media. She shares a statistic in the video that 85% of the female body type in the media (magazine ads, television shows, movies, and commercials) is only 8% of the worlds female body type. So what most people are seeing as “normal” or as what they define as “beautiful” isn’t normal and we are the ones that define beauty not the media.
The problem is that young women today are getting the message that they are not good enough the way they are which is unfortunate because it couldn’t be further from the truth. However not enough people are standing up in the main stream media to try and see a change happen. When music is such a driving force to people it can affect them when they hear songs like “I love the way you lie” or “I like big butts and I cannot lie”. It sends a message that women are of value because of what their body looks like not what they have to offer the world. I believe that we have to learn to treat the females we are around in a holistic way, because they have hearts, souls, and minds and those need to be celebrated as well.
When young pre-pubescent girls are talking about make up and looking certain ways and even have knowledge about sexual things at such a young age it is a scary thing. But we can’t simply stick our heads in the ground anymore as a society. We ARE the problem with this picture however we CAN be the solution as well. We have to stand up and say No More and tell people that they matter because they are people not because of who they know or what they look like. It is important for young women everywhere to hear from those they love that they matter and have value, we can make that change, we don’t have to let what the media says kill us softly anymore.