Close-up with KC Ejelonu
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @kcejelonu
Discrimination, the mistreatment of a person based on religion, race, or sexual orientation, is unacceptable in reasonable societies. Movies, music and books have been produced on this phenomenon that seeks to judge a person by their belief, sexuality or physical appearance.
One of the areas where discrimination abounds is when it comes to women and weight. While growing up, almost everyone deals with the process of losing that baby fat, blaming their mom for feeding them all the carbs, burgers and other junks. At least I know I did.
While some are lucky enough to get out of that stage and lose weight and learning what calories are, some girls today are fixated on their flaws, causing them to belittle themselves and even take destructive actions. Once they lose weight, they want to be skinner, like models and lose sight of the healthy reasons for their weight loss evolving it into reasons portrayed by the media of the self-image.
The media puts such an intense pressure on young girls today to look like the “ideal” or “perfect” image. The media’s harmful pressure on the self body image and self esteem of young girls has brought about some damaging effects: eating disorders, mental depression and physical depression.
What is that one word most young girls get scared of a lot? ”Calories”. The media is always soliciting a new form of pill or company to jump on board with a weight loss product; showing gorgeous women with amazing perfect looking abs and figures. Now seeing this would motivate anyone to want to workout to look like that. Though we are unable to stop the effects of media images on this growing epidemic of eating disorders, we must train our minds not to be affected by such “unrealistic body shapes”.
In Self-Enhancing effects of exposure to thin-body images by Joshi et al, it mentions, “exposing young women to images of thin, attractive models increases body dissatisfaction and other negative feelings” (Heinberg and Thompson, 1995). Being exposed to these images brought about many negative connotations in the self-image of a woman.
Research has shown that mental depression begins at a young age, kids learning by what they have seen on TV, magazine, billboards etc as “perfect” or “Ideal” following them into their teenage and adult years. When kids grow up seeing thin women in advertisements or in films they accept this as reality and try to imitate their appearance and actions. Even as adults, when we find ourselves not achieving a certain size or image, we get down on ourselves and begin to feel inadequate, so imagine what young girls are going through and what they could be putting themselves through.
I clearly remember the negative reactions American actress Gabourey Sidibe received for her red carpet look at the Golden Globes and her response to the hate was both clever and inspiring. If you are over weight it is always important to have self confidence because there will be people out there to attack you. But you can’t have that self confidence if you are wishing you look like Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez the way they looked on magazine covers.
It was pretty clear that all the jokes and hate directed towards Sidibe had very little to do with her dress and everything to do with her body. And it seems as if campaigns out there are about the perfect skin, the perfect shape etc, nothing for obesity or educating people on nutrition and healthy eating. Where are the campaigns like “Big Girls Rock”? But when topics about healthy living are talked about, it’s important that we also talk about self-esteem and beauty standards.
It’s great to have role models like Sidibe and Queen Latifah showing young girls that you can be fabulous and successful in any body type. It doesn’t even scratch the surface in ending what is a pervasive prejudice against voluptuous and heavier people. Though we have seen celebrities like Mo’Nique do their best to build self-worth and encourage them to love themselves.
It is time we begin reshaping our perception of attractiveness and redefine the way in which we engage beauty, it could do us all some good.