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The Way You See Yourself
December 2, 2016
“I wasn’t perfect, and I was trying to fix things by hurting myself.” These words are spoken by sophomore Nora Mortimer. These words also express a sentiment many here at Lake Ridge can relate to, but never discuss, when it comes to our own body image.
We are all guilty of it. We see our favorite celebrities and stop to think why we can’t look as skinny, pretty, or as perfect as them. Teens see other teens around school who are more in shape and wonder why they can’t look the same also. Too often we find ourselves comparing ourselves to the people around us.
A disturbing issue facing many is dealing with the pressures of how society says we should look. We are inundated with judgmental images and messages on tv and social media that say we need to look a certain way in order to be happy or successful. This is why so many teens in America struggle with self confidence and body image.
According to dosomething.org, a website dedicated to social problems within the country, 24 million people in the United States struggle with some sort of eating disorder. The constant pressure to look and weigh a certain way causes teens to do sometimes dangerous things to obtain their desired look.
“In seventh grade, I used to starve myself,” said Mortimer. “I wouldn’t eat anything for weeks. It effected my physical, mental, and emotional health. I would fall asleep during class and stay awake all night. I would always want to cry stepping on the scale because however low the number was, it wasn’t low enough.”
Although there are many negative pressures in popular society, there are also some positive influences as well. For instance, NBC’s show, The Voice, promotes equality concerning looks by incorporating “blind auditions.” When contestants are trying out to be on the show the judges backs are to them, if one of the judges likes their voice they turn around, which symbolizes them being accepted into the competition. With this system everyone has an equal opportunity.
Despite these positive influences, there is still the overwhelming desire many feel to look a certain way and be accepted. Because of this, the pressure to look good enough in order to fit in is still prevalent. This is a problem throughout the world, but an area in which there is the most pressure is in any middle school or high school.
“I thought I needed to have a certain look in middle school,” said junior Scarlet Cloud. “Most of the girls dressed all preppy, and I felt compared to them I looked like a boy. It made me feel really insecure.”
This is a sentiment millions of people can relate to. Unfortunately however, an overwhelming low amount of people actually seek help for this. According to dosomething.org, only 10% of people with eating disorders actually receive treatment for their conditions.
Although it can be difficult to recover from something like this, Nora Mortimer found a strength to push her forward in her recovery.
“You just have to focus on the good things and try to surround yourself with people that will support you and aren’t friends with you because of the way you look. They can help. Don’t be afraid to tell someone, even a teacher, they can help you,” said Mortimer.
Mortimer now uses her experience to inspire the people around her and whether she realizes it or not, helps others see that they don’t have to be perfect in order to fit in.
“Listen to the people that are encouraging you and calling you beautiful because you are. Whatever you look like, you are pretty. If anyone does say you’re ugly or not beautiful, don’t listen. You should be comfortable and confident in your own skin. Things gets better,” said Mortimer.