Most of us probably spent inordinate amounts of time in front of the mirror when we were teens. Trying new hairstyles, experimenting with makeup, singing into our hairbrushes. That’s a normal way of growing up and becoming comfortable with who we are and how we look. But according to a new study, most girls today are not even close to being comfortable with their appearance. In fact, 96% actually wish they had someone else’s body. That’s a statistic that is not only very dangerous for the mental and physical health of these girls, but it raises an important question: Who’s to blame?
Published today in Australia’s Girlfriend magazine, the study found that most teen girls do not think they are beautiful, and they believe losing weight is the answer to making them more attractive.
Shockingly, the results show at least 54% of girls aged between 13 and 20 skip meals while 96% would change their body if they could.
This is such a dangerous territory for teenage girls to be in. Not only does it set them up for eating disorders and an unhealthy body image, but it only perpetuates the myth that skinny equates to beauty and happiness. And all of this spews from huge insecurities that girls face today.
In fact, Sarah Tarca, editor of Girlfriend, said the number one word girls used to describe themselves was “self-conscious.”
Interestingly enough though, there were some inconsistencies with the responses according to Tarca.
The thing we were most surprised about was the contradictory nature of the results. For example, 60 percent might not think they are beautiful but then at the same time 54 percent said they had a healthy body image.
And there was one bright spot in all of this: The way these girls defined beauty had nothing to do with someone’s physical appearance.
We asked what characteristics they saw as being beautiful and the top six were confidence, happiness, having a good personality, friendly, fit, being healthy and intelligent. They are not even equating that to physical appearance.
So, on the one hand, these girls inherently know that beauty is about more than just looks. Yet, on the other hand, they don’t think that applies to them. Losing weight and wishing for someone else’s body is still at the top of their list.
All of this makes us wonder: Who’s really to blame for such unhealthy, negative body images that teens have today? Sure, we can point the finger at the parents, the schools and their peers. We can shame Hollywood and the media for putting such unrealistic ideals out there. And we can condemn the advertisers and the diet industry and the cosmetic surgery industry for making us feel like we need to “fix” ourselves. But the real person to blame is women in general.
Until women start banding together to support each other, this problem of us hating our bodies will never go away. Young girls, teen girls, adult women, we all compare and judge and put down ourselves and others. We make snide remarks to ourselves and our so-called friends about another woman’s appearance. And together, we obsess over who’s doing what in Hollywood and how they look. It’s terrible, really.
Until we stop paying attention to the unrealistic images on the cover of virtually every magazine out there, and until we stop being so harsh to our own bodies and the bodies of other women, this wishing-I-had-someone-else’s-body will never end. Only when we truly support and elevate each other for the beautiful people we truly are, will we be able to let those tabloid images and the diet industry roll right off our backs.
Let us know what you think.