Age, social class, ethnicity, and sexuality is an insightful chapter in author Sarah Grogan’s book Body Image, which gives a diverse break down on body satisfaction issues. This is important because most data that has been gathered on this issue is based off mostly middle class, white, college-age students (137). Not only was this an interesting chapter but I found what it had to say to be very relatable. I realized that I followed and still follow the endless cycle of body dissatisfaction.
In a study Grogan mentions researchers found that “48 percent of preadolescent girls” weren’t happy with their bodies and wished that they were thinner (139). When I was in elementary school I was not the exception. I remember the first and luckily the last time I was bullied by others because of my weight when I was in 5th grade. I was wearing a skirt and feeling very self-conscious and I overheard a boy talking about how fat I looked. I was so embarrassed that I told the teacher I had a stomach ache so I could go to the nurse’s office, where I made my mom pick me up. I was so embarrassed I never told her the real reason why I wanted to go home.
After that, I was the worst critic of my own body. In middle school I tried to hide away by wearing the same outfit, jeans, and an oversize sweatshirt, every day. Because of my weight, PE was always super embarrassing for me because I was afraid people were watching me, which made me not want to play sports or do any type of physical activities. This was also a pattern that Grogan’s book mentioned, which found that low body satisfaction in girls can lead to “low levels of exercise” (143).
It wasn’t until I reached high school that I started to gain a little bit of confidence in myself but was still uncomfortable overall with my body. It wasn’t until I was in college and I started taking more women studies classes, like this class, that I started to question the pressure I felt to look a certain way within this society. Even though my attitude towards my body has changed, it’s still hard not to wish for perfection.
I think it’s interesting because in high school I thought I was fat but when I got to college I gained weight and I remember wishing I was the same size I had been when I was in high school. But reading this chapter has really made me realize that I will probably never be satisfied with how my body looks. I want to accept my body rather than hate myself forever. A study found that age doesn’t change a woman’s happiness with her body (154.) When you’re young you think that when you get old you won’t care how you look but this chapter made me realize that looks are still important no matter how old you are. I thought it was so sad reading how women even in their 60s still felt bad about themselves (153).
I found this chapter to be a very interesting subject and I enjoyed the break down of the categories. As someone who identifies as a bisexual I was excited to see that sexuality was a topic but was slightly disappointed when it didn’t have the bisexual identity in the breakdowns of the topic. Though bisexuality was mentioned in the Lesbian section a few times, which was nice to read about. This chapter showed me how easy is it to be in an endless cycle of hate with yourself and how body satisfaction is an issue everyone faces.
Paige Elizabeth is a senior at ODU and will be graduating in the spring with a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a Minor in Public Service. She is slowly learning how to be an adult.