Arrowhead Students Struggle with Body Image

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The art of accepting how you were created.

Amanda Stahl, Reporter

Teenagers are barraged with a constant stream of media and peer pressures related to the ideal body image. Along with the persistent magazine articles and commercials, the media projects that teenagers and their value is based on their outward appearance. Society projects that men and women must be thinner or more muscular to be loved, accepted, and successful in life.

Teenager’s mental perception of what they look like can become distorted, leading them to engage in highly chaotic behaviors when they feel they don’t measure up to the impossible goal set in front of them. According to kidshealth.org, a negative self image can lead eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, cutting, bullying, and sexual addictions. All of these are due to negative outlooks of trying to gain a form of confidence that they tend to lack for themselves.

“I think that the media’s portrayal of body image is misleading and unrealistic most of the time. These false images are very discouraging to so many people and has such a strong impact on many people’s lives, whether they even know it or not. The media creates so many social expectations, and because it usually portrays this ideal body image, many people feel as if that is what they are supposed to look like. Somebody may be feeling nice and confident about their body, but then sees what the media’s representation is and suddenly feels as if they’re not good enough. I do not believe that any ideal body image should exist, every individual is so unique and should love his/her’s body the way it is. We cannot let the media destroy our self esteem because it is simply not realistic. In many cases, it’s body image projections are actually very unhealthy. We need to learn to love our bodies and not let something so unimportant have such a huge influence on how we live and feel,” Meghan Umhoefer, an Arrowhead junior, said.

Around Arrowhead High School, students have claim to have a lack of self confidence within themselves and view insecurities by many individuals around the school as well. Many students admit to feeling the pressure to have a good body, whether to fit into a certain clique or meet the weight requirements of an athletic team. Many students around Arrowhead have shared their testimonies.

“I have seen so many people dear to me go through and the struggles of body image that they still go through. Conformity of this perfect body type is not the way to go, doing what is healthy for you is what is most important. I also feel negatively about body image in the media because of own experiences in my life. Instagram being around for younger kids, like it was for me, was and is easy to impose whatever beliefs you want on them, and that’s something that really affected me harshly for a long time. My personal views on body image for both genders and what is supposed to be perfect is that it’s a load of crap. People telling others that there is some specific way to be is something that nobody needs. Girls supposedly need to be softer and pretty and take up less space, guys supposedly need to be manly, tough, and strong, yet I’ve met plenty of people in my short lifetime that continue to disprove these set rules,” Reannyn Mathieu said.

Mathieu said, “Honestly, my biggest piece of advice for so many people out there struggling with their own self-image is to try. Each and every day you try to love yourself more and more, you try to find more you like, you try to accept the things you dislike. You try, you try, and you keep trying and I promise one day it will pay off, one day you’ll wake up and realize that you don’t need to try anymore because you genuinely love yourself, and loving yourself is the best feeling.”

Thomas Stuber, a school counselor around Arrowhead said, “I think that body image is a problem for teens no matter what school you are at.  Yes, the counseling office at both campuses commonly work with students who struggle with problems with their body image.  I would say that the most common thing that I see is student who compare themselves to others to draw negative conclusions about their own body/attractiveness.  This is generally unhealthy because it can lead to negative self-perceptions, low self-esteem, and overall poor mental health. Nobody is perfect. There are many things a person can not change about their appearance.  I would recommend that students to focus on being the kind of person they want to be, and resist the temptation to think negatively about your body/appearance.  Instead, remind yourself of something you like about yourself.  If you are comfortable and happy with yourself as a whole-person, you will probably be able to accept your flaws on the outside and move on with your life.  If students are struggling with poor body/image and it is creating mental distress to the point where it is interfering with their normal daily activity, that they should seek help. They can always stop in and talk to their counselor.”