So, this is a topic pretty close to my heart, and not just because I’m a teenage girl, but because I’ve struggled on a personal level with the issue of self-image, self-confidence, and with liking myself. I’m gonna talk here about self-image with reference to girls, because that’s where I have (obviously) the most experience and perhaps where the issue is slightly more prominent. However, please don’t think I am suggesting that boys simply skip this issue altogether, I just don’t have time to talk about everything!
So, why do so many girls have body confidence problems, and why do so many girls hate the way they look? The answer is complex and difficult to pin down, but I believe, it can be found partly in our culture of double standards. Our culture of both ‘be yourself’ and ‘be perfect’. In a society hooked on mass media, featuring almost exclusively women of a very particular size and shape, females are bombarded with messages on how to stay thin, how to have perfect skin and teeth etc at the same time as being delivered messages such as ‘Love the skin you’re in’, and ‘be a real woman’. It is confusing! No wonder so many girls are struggling to accept who they are. The media has taken a species who are incredibly varied – black, white, tall, short, fat, thin, I could go on – and idealised one, very particular sort of woman with the result that the 98% of women who are not built like this are left feeling like their bodies are made wrong. Not to mention, the 2% of women who are built naturally tall and slim are often made to feel bad about their bodies by jealous onlookers!
Admittedly, I’m not saying anything that new. The media has committed a multitude of sins, but it is not the only reason girls often feel this way about themselves. I intend to do a full post on the power of words, but I will briefly summarise here. Words carry power. For women in particular, bad words stick. Sad as it is, although I have been complimented a thousand times since, the memory of a Y8 girl calling me ‘tubby’ almost 8 years ago is still one that I find it hard to forget, hard to let go of. By contrast, I am embarrassed, abashed by compliments and I usually do my best to shake them off. I know I am not alone in this! The sad fact is, these comments that stick with us are more often than not made by people who are probably pretty insecure themselves, or people like siblings who know exactly what to say to get to us. Furthermore, they are usually said with less meaning than the compliments we so easily brush off. I have tried recently, and admittedly very vainly, writing down the nice things people say to me. It’s been a massive ego boost, which leads me onto my next point.
Self-deprication has become standard. It’s become a negative thing to love yourself! I’m not advocating a generation of youngsters that can’t see past their own little bubble of wonderfulness, but I am saying that it is more than OK to know your strengths, your positive qualities, the beautiful things about your body and personality. How are we supposed to beat an epidemic of self-dislike if we refuse to see ourselves as worthy, beautiful people!
I believe that each individual is created with intrinsic worth, value, beauty and talent. I believe that God is devastated to see a generation of young, beautiful young girls and women refusing to believe that they are worth something. A generation choosing all manner of alternatives to choosing to believe that they are beautiful. It really breaks my heart.
I am not saying that I am able to wake up every morning, fresh-faced and bushy-tailed, and have complete confidence in the way I look. These things take time to learn in your heart as well as your head. I am saying that we can help each other, stop the cattiness, the bitching, the snide remarks. I am saying that at a guess about 98% of pictures in magazines are edited, and that there is no such thing as a perfect woman. And I am saying that whoever you are, reading this post, wherever you’re sat, that you are so beautiful!
Go and be amazing.
God bless, Anny xxx