No more time to weight

Poor body image, mental wellness, and what young girls should be told instead


Gabrielle Lazor , Writer

Scales have come to measure more than weight. They measure self-worth. A recent study found 63 percent of women to identify weight as a key determinant in their self-worth while another study reported 86 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearances. 

 These negative body-images, especially in females, are linked to mental illnesses including body dysmorphia, depression, and eating disorders if left unresolved. “Imagined ugliness” disorders convince individuals they appear to be what distorted mirrors reflect. Meaning, extreme dissatisfaction with one’s appearance can do irreversible damage. 

Beginning in childhood, body ideal internalisation is thought to be the cause of poor body image. Young women develop this idea that they must be skinny while still maintaining curves, an oxymoron embodying all that is flawed with societal beauty standards. 

However, there are a variety of ways women develop their sense of ‘ideal appearance’. Social media, family, comparisons between peers, and feelings of depression all contribute to a distorted perception of a girl’s body. Social media has become a breeding ground for comparisons and dissatisfaction. Girls barely going through puberty can not escape Instagram models and photo-shopped ‘perfection’. Battlefield junior Ashley Kehoe shares “sexualizing women’s bodies and making young girls feel like if they are not [desirable], then they are not beautiful or powerful,”  which festers insecurities and intrusive thoughts. Broadcasting an unrealistic beauty standard on nearly every app demotes women to being worth no more than their bodies. 

How young women see themselves even breaches onto the territory of a public health issue. “People with poor body image are at risk of self harm and of potentially harmful sexual behaviour,” reports Hannah Lewis, police officer at Rethink Mental Illness. Society needs to take responsibility and commit to protecting the generations of girls to come from poor body-image. Insecurities are natural, threats to safety are not. 

Instead of messages of tiny waists, flat stomachs, and curves, young girls need to be shown how to focus on what bodies do instead of what they look like. Perfection is unrealistic. Learning how movements such as hiking, swimming, jogging, and more strengthen the body, girls will grow in confidence and recognize their bodies as strong and capable. Comparisons are nearly foolish considering each person was born beautiful in infinitely different ways.

Society is obsessed with appearance. That does not mean the current generation and generations to come have to be. Weight loss and other similar industries have come to capitalize insecurities beginning with elementary-aged girls. “[Girls] have been very much valued in terms of their image. That’s the way they have currency in society,” says Phillippa Diedrichs, professor of psychology at the University of the West of England (UWE). Many need to be reminded of how kindness and confidence are worth more, anyways.