Warped body image an issue on campuses

By Kelsey Alvino
October 13, 2010

More predominantly than most in Western culture, body image plays a huge roll in many people’s lives.  With the cultural perspectives being shoved down our throats as a society it is hard to view our own selves as acceptable.  Many people struggle to find what makes them feel accepted or comfortable and the perception of skinny versus fat has waged an all out war on the men and particularly the women of our generation.

Instead of feeling united with each other in a particular gender many turn their heads to people they believe to be physically inadequate to themselves. Being fat used to be a sign of wealth and power. However, now being overweight is a sign of laziness, sloppiness and even incompetence.  On the other hand if you are skinny one might make comments about being anorexic, self-centered or mean, not in shape or happy.

The stereotypes of both of these body shapes are completely ridiculous however it is interesting to see where these labels come from and why they have become part of our culutre. I believe these comments, critiques and judgments come from a culture that is insinuating the fact that individuals are not good enough. Not good enough to look like people displayed in magazines or on television and as a generation we strive to be in this image of perfection. This is where the defensive side comes into play when we feel our physical appearance is under attack.

Due to the defense some people have about their personal image, it takes pressure off of one’s  own self to criticize another person. I have heard many critiques in my life from fat individuals to thin and vice versa, ranging all over the board from “eat a sandwich” to “six packs of rolls” to “tub of lard” and “body like a 12-year- old boy.” These insults are ones that are common and bring out a side of each individual who is struggling with their own body perception.

Understanding both sides of the spectrum is easier said than done especially when it comes to the fashion world. Thinner people fit into any clothes they want to wear. This is a common misconception. Many thin people struggle with the self confidence that comes along with not having curves and are often frustrated when items do not fit in certain areas, bringing their self confidence down.

Self confidence is also drained from larger people when they do not fit into the clothing at the same stores thinner people shop at. Having to go to special stores and not fit in with the “norm” can be hard on an individual who is only trying to seek acceptance.

This is an example of a common exercise that identifies warped body image. Participants draw what they think they look like and after are traced on top to compare. -- MCT

Many believe that there is nothing more annoying than a skinny girl referring to herself as fat, as well as there being nothing more confusing than a bigger person squeezing into sizes that are clearly not the best fit.

In my opinion skinny girls who constantly talk about themselves as being overweight have a serious self esteem problem and they are trying to fish for compliments from whoever is listening. This is a major problem and a sad issue that women never feel happy with themselves regardless of their weight.

Large people trying to fit into clothing that clearly does not fit is frustrating to me. I believe that doing this injustice to yourself is only going to cause negative attention your way. Who cares if you wear a larger size and look good? But squeezing into jeans that are three sizes too small will not fool anyone into thinking you are actually that size.

Regardless of what store one shops at, it is extremely important to know your body, and how to make it look its best. Knowing what size you are is crucial. Spandex is not acceptable for every body type and if nothing is holding your halter top up, you will just look ridiculous. Just because something is in style does not mean it is your style. Dressing the best way for you and your body will increase your self esteem. It is easy to see why some would put others down to feel happy or adequate with how they are viewed by the outside world.

Certainly I believe that people put others down because they feel unhappy with themselves as a person. Regardless of body image, people may find themselves constantly trying to be like someone else. Judging someone or being judged is something that everyone has gone through in their lives, it never feels good and making fun of someone makes you feel in power for an entire 10 seconds. The negativity facing our society needs to stop. We need to come together and accept each other for who we are and we need to put ourselves in a position to look our absolute best, inside and out.

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Kelsey Alvino

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