“Look how big my thighs are! I’m so fat. I need to work out soon!” Have you ever heard a statement like this before? Worrying about weight, size, and appearance constantly is called negative body image. Negative body image is caused by the media and social environment. The researchers at Adelaide’s Flinders University say that 47 percent of girls aged five to eight want to be thinner. Also, overall research indicates that 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their weight in some way. Women fast, skip meals, exercise excessively, or vomit to be skinnier. Americans are told everyday that being thin will make life better by the media. Then, people want to be popular and hang around skinny friends. Therefore, some parents feel inclined to have their child have a good, happy life and pressure them to be thin, too.
One cause of negative body image is the media. The media creates unrealistic standards for how someone should look to be attractive. Media activist Jean Kilbourne says, “Women are sold to the diet industry by the magazines we read and the TV programs we watch, almost all of which make us feel anxious about our weight.” The diet industry is worth 30 billion dollars! Even the toys children play with have told them what to look like. If Barbie were life-size, she would stand at 5 feet, 9 inches and weigh 110 pounds. Her measurements would be 39-18-33, and she would not menstruate due to inadequate levels of fat on her body. Television programs promote that being thin makes one have a better life. For example, The Hills, a reality show about Hollywood, shows how thin and beautiful women have a better, exciting lives.
A social environment is filled with self-conscious talk and pressures to be thin and muscular. Friends and family members may often complain that they need to diet or how large they look; therefore, a child feels they must have to diet so their parents accept them. In other cases, parents pressure their child to diet so they are popular and happy. Also, athletes feel pressured to lose weight to make certain weight classes for sports, to look more attractive for judges, or run faster.
People need to accept that they can never have a body like a model. 7 percent of women are naturally built like models. The other 93 percent must force themselves to look like those women. The media and social environment cause negative body images. Ignore what the media says is “in.” Remember, everyone is beautiful in his or her own way!