Today’s society has forced women to change their ideas of what is beautiful in order to maintain social acceptance. Women are constantly subjected to ridicule and comparison by the media, resulting in the creation of unrealistic and self-destructive expectations. Our younger generations are completely saturated in media exposure, most of which is specifically directed toward adolescent girls. Behind men’s magazines, images of sexually objectified women are most likely to appear in teen magazines that are majorly viewed by teenage girls (“Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders”, NEDA). Women are able to compare themselves to other women who are deemed more attractive or successful with the click of a button. Our thoughts and feelings about our insecurities created by this comparison are suppressed, and we are expected to act as if we don’t have any anxieties about what the world thinks of us. These expectations often turn into serious insecurities in women of all ages, and can play out in many different ways among them.
For me, and many others, food became my enemy and cutting it out completely seemed to be the only way I could get the results I wanted. By my junior year of high school, my life turned into one crash-diet after another, and eventually my body lost the fight. For a period of time, anything short of liquids made me miserably sick, and no doctor could explain why, creating within me a mental and emotional exhaustion along with the physical pain. It wasn’t until I started to treat my body correctly by exercising and eating properly that my body started to feel right again, leading me to feel more confident in my own skin, and learn to genuinely love the person I am inside and out. My fitness journey has been a hard road, and is often misunderstood and criticized. Through this essay I hope to reveal the true meaning behind my lifestyle and shed light on the struggles faced by women every day. The coloring of the photos presented will be muted and bleak so the images may be less stimulating to the senses, and may be deeper understood by the emotions of the reader. These photos are ordered in a progression of the evolution of constructive ideas, thoughts, and self-love. This sequence is meant to portray difficulty and pain, along with healing and triumph. Many people misinterpret my lifestyle of health and fitness as superficial and fleeting, but it is because of my fitness journey that I have finally broken out of the bondage created by false expectations, gained the confidence to genuinely love myself and others, and have discovered what true beauty feels like. I don’t want to be skinny; I want to be strong.
These pictures portray the story of many; fitness may not be a factor for each of them, but the concept of brokenness evolving into a proclamation of strength is relatable experience for many girls. For the majority of my life I felt ashamed and alone in my insecurities, but today stand knowing that I am not. I do still struggle with maintaining this mentality, but I am now able to revert my thoughts back to my successes and progression, and feel confident and proud. The views of our body is a war that we will have to fight within ourselves for the rest of our lives, and watch play out in the lives of our dear friends, family members, and daughters. There will always be someone who is skinnier, prettier, more successful, or more loved than you may think you are, but the difference is made when you can look at her and still love yourself. We each have unique characteristics and gifts that make us incomparable to anyone else, and we must learn to embrace and be proud of those qualities. Through this essay, I hope you have learned that you can create your own definition of beauty and that only you have the power to live it out. I hope light was shed on my lifestyle choices and that it may be apparent that my health and fitness is not just skin deep, but is a reflection of how far I have come from a life of being lost. l hope most of all that you know how much stronger women are together, and that we must encourage and uplift one another. You have the power to change the social acceptance of false expectations and shaming, and it can start with loving yourself just the way you are.
Citations “Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders.” National Eating Disorders Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.
“Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers .” Eating Disorder Information and Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.