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Promoting positivity to increase self-esteem

By Jess Ganga
Social Media Editor

We all share a common enemy. We walk by it without knowing. It’s in everyone’s home, in stores and at school, and it’s unavoidable. It’s a silent threat and brings down our spirits without saying any words. When people look into a mirror — the enemy — they pick themselves apart, and every flaw is magnified. No one is perfect — I’ll be the first to admit I’m nowhere near it — but many individuals feel the need to join forces with that enemy and bring themselves down.

Today, eating disorders and body image problems are becoming more common among young people and adults alike. It’s hard not to point fingers at reasons that cause people to feel badly about themselves.

One finger should point to the media and the images it portrays. Picking up a magazine and flipping through, you can see picture after picture of skinny celebrities and scarily thin models. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website, 69 percent of girls in fifth through 12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape. For girls at such a young age, this is shocking.

Many teens struggle to look like models with ‘perfect’ bodies. (AP Photo)
Many teens struggle to look like models with ‘perfect’ bodies. (AP Photo)

It’s not just magazines, but what’s on our television screens that affects how we view ourselves, too. During cycle 15 of the reality show “America’s Next Top Model,” one of the contestants was known for not only being 6’2” but also having a very tiny waste. During her audition, one of the judges wrapped his fingers around her waist to show just how thin she was. In 2010, ABC News reported on the episode because it did not go over well with many people. In the story, model and show host Tyra Banks clarified her excitement of seeing Ward’s waist. She stated that she regretted what she had seen in that scene and that she’s “a leader in celebrating and promoting” healthy body images.

This and many other examples cause women to face the mirror and wonder if how they look is the “correct” way to be. It’s a prevalent issue among college students.

According to the ANAD website, 91 percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. In a survey of 185 female students, 58 percent felt the pressure to be a certain weight and 83 percent dieted to lose weight to try to achieve that “perfect” number.

Another finger can be pointed at social media. In an article written for the BBC News website, social media has had an effect on body image. According to the article, the use of social media adds pressure to people wanting to look good for their 500+ friends on Facebook and Instagram.

It’s not only friends on social media that have an effect on how we view ourselves, but also the people around us.

In conversation with friends, I often hear about how a person doesn’t like something about themselves. Naturally, once one person says they hate something about themselves, you have to be a “good friend” and point out the latest part of your body you hate.

So what’s the best way to beat the negativity and turn our “imperfections” to perfections? Positivity. On the website for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), the organization provides ten steps a person could do to have a positive body image. Some of the steps include keeping a top-10 list of things you like about yourself and surrounding yourself with positive people.

It’s hard to tell yourself what you like about yourself, but with steps like this and as much positivity we can accumulate, we can defeat the common enemy and change it into our friend.

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