These articles have been written by Tarleton Academy students to promote discussion and debate during tutor time.
Body Image & Teen Pressures - Love Yourself Like You Love Your Easter Eggs!
It’s the morning of your first day back at school after Easter - yawn, I know right. You look in the mirror, sigh and go back to getting ready. As you saunter to school, you ignore the loud begging of your stomach as you watch your friend eating a Squares bar.
It gets to lunchtime and you are exhausted. You haven’t even had P.E today! All day your friends have been asking if you’re okay, “You seem a little grey?”; but that’s how you normally look, so you shrug it off – “I’m fine.”
It’s been a full two days since your last meal and you don’t understand why you’re hungry - you have enough food inside you to last the rest of your life . . . at least that’s what they say. Once tea time arrives, your parents are begging you to eat and so that ends in another argument.
That’s the third time this week; they just don’t understand.
Okay, so maybe you said a few things that were a little extreme. However, as you go up the stairs you begin to feel a little dizzy (sound familiar?). Your knees begin to feel a little weak. The room begins to spin. You begin to panic and suddenly the room turns to black…
Did you know that approximately 1.25 million people are diagnosed with anorexia each year (in the UK alone).
Around 11% of those affected by eating disorders are male.
Here at Tarleton Journalism, we were horrified by these statistics and wanted to understand a little more about why there has been such a stark increase in young people with eating disorders in the last decade. And, whilst mental health and many other factors play a huge role in this, is the media also partly to blame?
Something you can’t avoid in today’s media is an obsession with a ‘perfect’ body image. Whatever that may be. So, we wanted to see how this affected you (the students). Some of you might remember this image form the questionnaires you filled in in your PE lessons:
From the images, we asked you to identify your ‘ideal’ body type. We found that 52% of you preferred the ‘triangle’; the most favoured online too. Coincidence? We think not. Especially when you consider that an ample chest and slim frame is what most of us are met with floating around our Instagram news feeds on a daily basis. What’s more surprising perhaps is that only 4% of students considered the ‘Apple’ body shape to be the most desirable; a perfectly natural body for a woman.
We believe that you are not at fault. This is the fault of the media and the images of ‘wannabe’ celebrities sharpened and layered by their Instagram filters which we are met with on a regular basis.
But in today’s society- body shape and ‘type’ just shouldn’t matter (as only 3 people out of 50 admitted in the questionnaires). What we realised is that, by being obsessed with having a body ‘type’ (one of which is almost impossible to have), we lose sight of who we are on the inside and this can be damaging both physically and mentally. This is highlighted by the 70% increase in mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression amongst teenagers in the past 25 years.
Through our questionnaires, we also found that the majority of the girls preferred a potential partner to be funny and clever, rather than good looking, athletic etc. We were pleasantly surprised with this result, as we thought that society’s stereotypical view that looks are paramount would be clear in our results, but obviously this is not the case. Well done students of Tarleton Academy! This leads us to the big question; do we believe in love at first sight? Well, we were also surprised to see that nearly 80% of the girls did not believe in love at first sight, which is contrary to the popular cliché of days gone by. It would appear that, we as a school, understand and value personality over looks.
The most important question we asked was how you view yourself, finding that only 20% of the girls thought themselves to be good looking. Is this because of how society forces such high expectations on people regardless of gender, sexuality or any other factor? If we truly believe that looks are secondary to personality, then why do some of us punish ourselves so much for having that extra chocolate bar at break?
Come on guys – give yourselves a break and enjoy everything in moderation!
If you need guidance or help on any of the issues raised, you could look to these websites for support:
Beat Eating Disorders
Or download the 7 Cups app where you can also learn how to support other people who may be struggling with these issues: