When you think of body image, negative or positive, you typically think of teen girls or just teenagers in general. However, recent studies have shown that when younger girls, around the ages of 8 and 10, are asked how they feel about their body image the results are concerning. These young girls are feeling the same negative thoughts about their bodies as teenagers do.
Why do girls start to dislike the way they look earlier? I feel the best answer is social media. Social media today is a whole other ball game compared to even five years ago. Girls are constantly slammed with unrealistic body types that are desired but not attainable.
According to Dr. Heather R. Gallivan, 53 percent of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies, and it grows to 78 percent of girls by the time they are 17 years old. The higher percentage has to do with the increased exposure to social media.
The idea that a girl must be skinny or look a certain way poisons the minds of every girl before she even has the chance to learn what true beauty is.
Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to change something about myself. Whether it was to be skinnier or have different hair or have better posture, it was always toward the goal of attaining some sort of love, either from my peers or society. We always desire love the most, it is just who we are as human beings.
I would be lying if I said I did not give into media and its unrealistic stereotypes. As a young girl, between the ages of 11 to 15 years old, I would dread looking in the mirror because I knew I would not like what I would see. I would constantly compare myself to celebrities, models and the girls I thought were prettier than me. I let what society called beauty dictate what I thought was beautiful.
The one thing I was forgetting was that I am already loved by God, who doesn’t even care what I look like, because he made me perfect just the way I am.
In the summer before freshman year of high school, everything finally clicked for me at a youth retreat put on by my church. At this retreat I finally realized the unimaginable love that God has for me. It was during adoration when I thought of the image of Jesus dying on the cross to save me as the ultimate display of love.
To be searching for love on Earth and then to realize I already had it from God was extremely relieving. I don’t know why I had never thought of this before but it really struck me and all the stuff I was struggling with, especially pertaining to self-love, suddenly seemed so trivial and unnecessary.
As much as I would love to say from then on out I never wanted to change anything about myself again, it’s not true. Realizing the undying love God has for me definitely helped me see past all the superficial trends, but it didn’t stop it completely. Still to this day I want to be skinnier and prettier but now I can draw myself back into God’s love with the thought that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Whenever I start to doubt myself in any way or think I am not beautiful, I just think of this verse and it reminds me that God has a plan for me and it will all be OK.
Olivia Parker is a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. She attends Immaculate Conception Church in North Little Rock.
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