“I wore a tight one piece bathing suit under my clothes every single day of 6th and 7th grade to make myself look thinner.” “One time I wrapped my stomach in saran wrap before bed, hoping to wake up with a smaller waist.” “Back in only 3rd grade a guy told me my arms looked hairy like a monkey, and from then on I really switched from just not being aware, to realizing it was a ‘bad thing.'” “I am 120 pounds and 5’9, and I have always been underweight; but I feel like I have been taught that it’s better to think you’re fat than it is to be happy with your body.” These stories are not glamorous, they are not feminist propaganda, and they are not from a small minority group. These are stories of real people who walk the halls of Shaker Heights High School. These stories are important.
Right now in English class, I am writing a research paper about the factors that affect body image throughout adolescence for females. I have been asking friends to share personal experiences or stories about their body/self confidence during middle school years. With each line that is sent to me, my heart grows more and more heavy. I have caught onto the simple pattern that everyone has something. As small as a comment that some jerk made in 3rd grade, to skipping meals, or anywhere in between, these experiences have lasting effects on how we see ourselves. Yes, it is an absolutely terrible phenomenon that so many people tell such a similar heartbreaking story. However at the same time, I think that it is comforting knowing that nobody is really alone in this struggle. By telling our own stories, along with current body positivity movements and progressive ads in the media, we are working toward a more accepting and self loving society.