Since I was young I was told I was fat, it would always be jokingly from my family out of love but you could still feel the negative connotation from it. Reading Grogan’s article and seeing research showing that girls showed dissatisfaction with their bodies as young as 8 years old made sense to me. That is around the age I can first remember being called fat and noticing my weight. I think its sad that at so young girls are subjected to view themselves so negatively and start to worry about their physical image. However, with the pressure of the media it is prominent at an early age.
According to the text “Tiggerman and Pennington suggest that body dissatisfaction is the normal experience of girls in Western culture from age 9, and that the imagery surrounding fatness and slimness on television and other media is very influential in determining children’s beliefs concerning ideal body size.” This interests me because different cultures have different views on body image. For example, in a lot of African countries the bigger you are the better because it shows you have more wealth and can afford to eat well. All in all, its about values and the western society has heavy values in appearance.
I can identify with the reading when it discusses girls being envious of their friends who were skinny like models and ate a bunch of fattening foods and never put on weight. Growing up I knew I had a slower metabolism because I could see friends who were average/thin eat all the time a bunch of junk and never put on extra weight. However, I would eat a normal amount of typical every day food and be normal/to moderately bigger in size. However, I also express a distaste for extremely thin models in magazines because it’s unrealistic and looks unhealthy in my opinion. Being black, I come from a background where being “thick” is a good thing and having a big butt is attractive. A balance between big and small is important and “healthy weight” is good.
I have learned that what is portrayed in the media is not always true in every sense. So, seeing women with amazing bodies that look nothing like mine, I must take with a grain of salt. Typically, I am in awe when I see such images and I often wish my body was similar but I also have to remind myself that everyone is different and unique and only a very small percentage of women look like the majority of images that are flashed to me on the daily. Most women have what are considered “flaws” which I think is interesting that it is normal to think that something that is rare and often unachievable is glorified so much to the point that majority of women feel insecure even though they are not alone.
The text discusses body image in adulthood and how women tend to focus on looking younger but tracking back a bit, it makes me think about in this present generation girls do a lot to make themselves appear older. Girls wear tons of make-up and dress a certain way that sadly makes them appear older than what they are thus attracting the wrong kind of attention for their age. I think the media plays a big part in displaying sexy images that girls aspire to be like. When I was younger I too also wanted to be mature but not to the extent that I see young women today. Often on social media, I scroll and see images of women that look like they are in their mid to late 20s only to be revealed that they are teenagers in middle and high school. The need for attention has gotten out of hand and these girls think that a low cut top and a full face of make-up is going to be the best way to get it. I’m seeing girls who appear better than me and look older than I do and I find it insane.
In relation to body image and ethnicity, the texts states that “body dissatisfaction is more frequent in British and U.S white women and less frequent in African-American and women from the British Afro-Caribbean community.” I agree with this notion and think black women are more confident and comfortable with their bodies. As I previously stated, being black, I come from a background where being “thick” is a good thing and having a big butt is attractive. I believe this is from our roots passed down from our ancestors in Africa. Black women have pride in themselves and their bodies and are more excepted in their community. Every stretch mark is often glorified and appreciated. I remember watching movies with predominantly white characters like “Bring It On” and “Mean Girls” and would be confused when the characters would shame each other for being “fat” and having big butts. Their definition of fat and mine are totally different. I still to this day find it ridiculous their standards of beauty and how they counted every calorie and made friends with the scale.
Overall, I love my body. I have insecurities and issues with certain parts of my body, but I don’t see that changing anytime soon because how we are programmed when we are young that what we see is better and ultimate. I often go back and forth between loving my body and wanting to lose weight specifically in my stomach. I am continuing my journey of self-love and as long as I am healthy that is what is most important.
Anika Williams is a Communications major with a double minor in Marketing and Film. She is interested in film and advertising and hopes to pursue a career with those aspects in the near future. She is very involved on the campus of ODU serving in many roles. She is a Resident Assistant, a mentor, the Vice President of the organization SWL (Success Without Limitations) and also a conversation partner for international students. Additionally, she owns her own business, a hat brand based off of vision under the name NOISIA. She always has a vision and her goal in life is to pursue it, whatever it may be. Words to describe her would be a mentor, leader, organizer, visionary and entrepreneur.