Monday, April 1, 2013
Last week I read an article on ABC that stuck with me. It was titled Thigh Gap: New Teen Body Obsession?, and it was about a new kind of body image imperfection. But is it really a new obsession? Or is it just getting more notice now that runways are live streaming and social media sites can focus on "thinspiration" more easily.
I've struggled with my weight all my life. When I was 12 years old I blew up to 160lbs and a size 14 at 5'3''. After being made fun of, being told I was fat by family members, and constantly being told to lose weight, I took it upon myself to get into shape. Within 6 months I was down 30lbs and feeling great, but does the worrying ever really stop?
Once I hit high school, I struggled even more with my body image. I would eat a cookie a day and maybe a snack but other than that I wouldn't let myself eat. I dropped to a 110lbs (the smallest I'd ever been) and people were then telling me they were worried I was too skinny, my bones popped out everywhere. So not only do you have a constant battle of what's the "perfect weight" but the people around you do too.
One of my main "problems" has always been my thigh gap or lack there of. Over the years, I've managed to tighten it up but that's the problem.... we are ALL different. Nobody's body is the same. So while I sit here and worry about my love handles, or thigh gap, others might worry about their flabby arms or whatever kind of distraction they have to keep them from feeling beautiful or part of the "in crowd."
As far as I'm concerned, the thigh gap has been around for a long time, or at least since I was a teen. I'm 25 now, and I still worry about my body image- there's always something to pick apart and the thigh gap is one of my biggest "imperfections." (see I'm doing it right there ;}) But I've also come to realize, I'm happy. I look healthy, I feel good, I have a wonderful fiancé that loves everything about my body, and I have the confidence I didn't have when I was a teen. So as I read that article morning, and watched the interview of 4 teens, I wondered, is it really us as individuals that cause these worries or is it mainstream media like news networks and social media platforms that continue to cause us to pick apart our imperfections?
According to an article from CNN, social media may do more harm than good. Amanda Coleman, president of her sorority, found herself counseling many of the girls. She began to notice all conversations had to do with Facebook or other social media outlets so she put a stop to it. She quit Facebook. Before social media, images of unattainable beauty were harder to come by, but as social media platforms continue to get bigger, women and girls are staring at the images for longer periods, seeing photos in their newsfeeds. "And, you know, at some level we all knew these were models and celebs, so maybe it was different somehow, more fictional and unattainable," said Coleman.
So while teens struggle with the "new" obsession, mainstream media needs to cut back on their coverage of the body image obsession. The more people obsess over something, the more it becomes a normal, every day thing to worry about. According to the article, teen psychologist Barbara Greenberg, says statistics show that 80 percent of girls dislike their bodies by the time they are 17 years old. That is an incredibly high number for such young girls.
We have to do something about the way "beautiful" is perceived. It shouldn't just be about the looks. If someone isn't beautiful on the inside, how can they be beautiful on the outside? Girls need to learn how to love themselves and each other as well as stop cutting each other down. It might make you feel good to begin with but it won't for long and you will have one more imperfection to worry about.
And while the thigh gap is just one of the unrealistic standard for most out there, girls continue to focus on the size of their body not for the attention of boys, but according to the teens interviewed, "it’s strictly a girl thing, affecting popularity and status."
What are your thoughts? Is the thigh gap a new fad? Have you struggled with it? How have you overcome your imperfections?