To a woman it is dangerous to read a magazine, especially, fashion magazines. Women of all ages are constantly bombarded with images of what the media says we are suppose to look like, especially teenagers. Teenagers are vulnerable and ultimately looking for acceptance. February was National Eating Disorder Awareness month. I apologize that I did not reflect on this issue during February, however, I realize that that I can write about this on any day.
During my childhood I was vulnerable, even though I had many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, I ultimately wanted acceptance in society. I often times thought that I wanted to be a “normal little girl living a normal life.” I wanted to wake up early, get on a school bus, and live a slow paced life. I dreamt of going to a Sunday morning church with my family. My parents did take me to Sunday church when I asked them to but it was different because a lot of people knew that my family left the entire conventional church to “do some Jewish thing.” Even though I was little when I went to attend normal church, I felt maybe a little looked down upon and really out of place. I didn’t have the same traditions or beliefs as the other children and I didn’t go with my family as many did. I live in the mid-west. There are not many Jewish people, especially Messianic Jews and Jewish culture is looked down upon to a degree, but then again, it’s probably looked down upon in every part of the world.
I never knew where exactly I belonged. I still don’t. Outside my identity in Christ, I don’t have anything. As a young child I struggled
immensely in trying to find my place. I tried about a dozen sports (ice skating, karate, gymnastics, etc.), several odd hobbies, and many other things butbultimately I still didn’t feel accepted by society. In several places, some not God-honoring things where said to me because of my Messianic background. I would not abandon my beliefs because It feeds so much into my idenity.
Well, I couldn’t find my place in this world, but I could look/dress like society in hopes of being accepted into some form of it To put this into perspective, I was very young when my parents started going to Synagogue. I was almost five years old and my body image issues started around then. I didn’t know much in my young age, but I did know that the skinny girls where the beautiful ones. I would watch T.V. or movies and see this expectation of what I was suppose to look like. Even my doll’s looked this way. There wasn’t any reason why I shouldn’t look this way. At the age of seven years old someone told me that I needed to lose weight and I started a diet for the first time. I would work out constantly (let me clarify this was the only time in my life I’ve been willing to work out) and restrict food. This was not an eating disorder, just a diet, but this was the start of my journey of having a distorted view of food and my body. From my first diet it led to another one to another one. I became a pro at dieting by the time I was a pre-teen.
I became obsessed with weight loss shows and wanted to have a dramatic transformation that contestants had on those shows. Even though I didn’t need to do that from a health perspective. I have been overweight from a medical standpoint. In fact, I have been under. But I have also have never had the body that the girls have on T.V. This puzzles me. Today I have a healthier relationship with food but I still secretly strive for unrealistic beauty expectations.
My struggle with body image from a young age is sadly too familiar to most. Eighty percent of girls say that they have been on a diet by the time they are the age of ten. Older people are often times shocked by this satistic. If you put the pieces together, it makes perfect sense. Little girls are always surrounded by unrealistic body expectations. Toys have them. I challenge you to go into a toy aisle and find a toy that doesn’t have unrealistic body standards. If they turn on the television to watch a kids show every female is underweight; almost 90% of the females on the major TV stations that are appealing to girls this age are underweight, too. Young girls have the exact same pressures to be thin as teenagers, and any woman, for that fact.
Prevention is key to protecting the hearts of young girls. I want to see a world that it is barbaric to diet when being underweight. But I don’t know how this can happened. Although I do have some ideas. Girls need to be taught that girls have the power to empower each other. If girls spent the amount of time and money that they do on their appearence and used it for the higher good, think about the postive change that could be done in the world. We need to educate students how to use discernment when on the internet, and become involved in the changing of Photoshop laws for models.
Statistically you know one of those girls who have dieted by the age of ten. How do you plan to positively influence her and emphasis that she is beautiful?