Increasing body dysmorphia in young girls

“Finally this long day comes to an end. I got really tired of moving around all day. Thank goodness she decided to go to bed a little early today.” said the body.

“Can you keep quiet? Some of us are trying to sleep here.” the mind hissed.

Agitated, the body said “Oh! You are one to talk! It’s you who keeps her up all night with all those thoughts swarming around all night.”

“Well, I can’t be blamed” the mind replied “If only you weren’t so imperfect, I wouldn’t have to worry all night okay?”

To which the body said, “Why are you always fighting with me? I just don’t understand. You hate me so much that you have made her hate me as well. What have I even done? I remember times when she loved me so much. She used to take care of me, and now the only thing she wants the most in the world, is to change me, get rid of me, hide me from the world. I do so much for her, I fight off things that want to make her sick, I heal all her wounds, all I care about is her and only her well being. And what does she do? She doesn’t even treat me well. This is all because of you and how you made her despise me and made her ashamed of me.”

“You cannot simply accuse me of everything! Do you know how much do I have to suffer and what I am going through, you only care about yourself, not about me or what I want” said the mind.

“Stop it you two. You need to stop fighting a war against each other everyday. This is getting too much, don’t you understand, every time you fight, I break a little, please stop hating each other.” finally the Heart said.

Body Dysmorphia and Negative Body Image

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.

When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely focus on your appearance and body image, repeatedly checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance, sometimes for many hours each day. Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress, and impact your ability to function in your daily life.

Unknown source.

How often do you look in the mirror and say “If I could just lose ten pounds, then I would be happy”? Unfortunately, majority of women and girls are dissatisfied with their bodies, and many take extreme measures in an attempt to change their bodies. One study found that 63% of female participants identified weight as the key factor in determining how they felt about themselves – more important than family, school, or career. It also suggests that 86% of all women are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight. 

Another study in 2019, showed how there has been an upsurge in body image issues and body dysmorphia in adolescents and particularly ones aged 15-18. Such young girls spend a lot of time looking at themselves in the mirror, try absurd diets in effort to lose weight, eat too much junk in order to gain weight, start seeking different products that promise quick changes in body shape and/or face shape.

But it is not just hatred of one’s body, it actually leads to many more serious problems. Teens start developing social anxiety, they have extremely low self esteem, mood disorders, disordered eating which leads to innumerable health issues, and even problems in relationships and friendships. They start avoiding going out or being seen in public. This leads to several other mental health issues and some of the victims go as far as developing self-harm tendencies.

What causes it?

There are many causes for young girls to be developing body image issues, and it varies from person to person. Some of them are:

  • being teased about appearance in childhood
  • growing up in a household where emphasis is placed on appearance of a particular ideal body size or shape
  • parents and other family members experiencing body dissatisfaction and engaging in dieting or weight control behaviors
  • a cultural tendency to judge people by their appearance
  • peer pressure among teenage girls and women to be slim, go on diets, exercise and compare themselves with others
  • a tendency in women’s media to push fad diets and weight loss programs
  • well-meaning public health campaigns that urge people to lose weight.

But I believe in today’s world, the biggest contributing factor is the media and it’s portrayal of an ‘ideal body type’. Models, influencers, actresses are all labeled under a certain height and weight and have these perfect bodies with non-existent body fat percentage making it somehow impossible for a person to look the same without starving themselves.

Some young girls idolize certain influencers and aspire to have a body type like them and when they do not achieve it they start hating the way their body looks. The unrealistic beauty standards set by society are pushing several girls into Body Image disorders every day.

Firstly the belief that a person’s worth boils down to how they look or how others around perceive them is wrong and should not be promoted. Young girls should know they are way more than just their measurement.

The practice of editing, air-brushing and filtering pictures of naturally beautiful women to make them look unnaturally beautiful has put a lot of pressure on young women around the world, because they fail to realize this long process and all the efforts that go in making these women look the way they do.

Many of these influencers also go through cosmetic surgeries, while there is nothing wrong in doing so, they go wrong when they fail to accept the fact that they have done so, clearly implying that the body or face that they have, is completely natural, which it isn’t.

Victoria’s Secret: Love My Body Campaign 2011

The picture above, for example, was actually a campaign initiated by the very famous women’s lingerie, clothing, and beauty brand ‘Victoria’s Secret’, which is widely known for hiring all their models, of the exact same skinny and tall body type. Ironically the campaign ended up promoting exactly opposite of what they intended to.

Reading, knowing and hearing about such young girls with severe mental health issues and negative body image issues all because of pressure of what they see the people around and how they have defined beauty is heart breaking. It seems as if there has been a certain limit set across and only the ones falling in will be considered as attractive. It angers me that young girls are throwing away months, years and lives only chasing and trying to achieve their goals which will make them conventionally beautiful.

If you happen to come across, or already know someone suffering with body dysmorphia or any other body image issues, make sure you reach out to them. Let them know that they are beautiful, and that the people around love them for who they truly are. Let them know that their compassion, kindness, empathy and selflessness will make them more beautiful than any other cosmetic will ever do.

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