One of my favorite things about 2016 so far has been the active use of plus size models alongside regular models in media. It shows girls you are beautiful no matter what size you are, something I didn’t grow up with as kid. That’s why it’s frustrating to see magazines still body shaming young girls.
In a recent issue of the magazine Discovery Girls, whose audience is 8 to 12-year-olds, they were offering tips to girls on which swimsuit would be ideal for their body type. Rather than telling them all about how fun it is to wear bright and colorful swimsuits, Discovery Girls instead offered girls tips that could be found in an issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
This situation is very comparable to when O, The Oprah Magazine, released an article telling women they should wear crop tops only if they have a flat stomach. While a harsh case of body shaming, women of all shapes and sizes turned something negative into a positive by wearing as many crop tops they could.
Young girls already have enough to deal with. They don’t need a magazine teaching them they shouldn’t be able to express themselves. It’s bad enough girls are already held to an impossible standard of beauty from an extremely young age.
Rather than telling a young girl to dress a certain way, why not tell them how wonderful they are, how beautiful they are and that they will do great things one day?
Body shaming girls or women at any time is horrible, but it is especially detrimental to this age group. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 10 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of becoming overweight or fat. Rather than enjoying their young carefree lives, 86 percent of girls will go on to attempt to lose weight in their adult life.
I spent the entirety of my young life in constant self-loathing. I hated how I looked, how I felt and who I was. Going through life overweight isn’t easy. When one is overweight, they typically fall into two categories: the butt of the joke or the class clown. I found myself shifting forever between the two, hoping to stay off the radar of body-shaming bullies.
It didn’t stay that way for long and I often found myself being the victim. I tried so hard to fit in. I dieted constantly and wore the most flattering clothes I could get. I tried binging and purging, and threw up so hard and so much that it made me cry until my eyes were so swollen I couldn’t see. It was my own personal hell and it was never enough.
As someone who has spent most of her life overweight, it really makes me sad to see magazines outwardly body shaming young girls. The media does terrible things to our self-esteem, and while it definitely shaped mine through most of my young life, I go through everyday trying to get over it because I know now that I’m so much more than what I look like.
While I am glad that the founder and publisher of Discovery Girls Catherine Lee apologized about the article, it isn’t enough. Magazines, and all media in general, should go through major reform and present an accurate representation of the typical woman.
No one should ever have to feel like they will never be good enough, just because they don’t look like a celebrity or model on the cover of a magazine. The goal should be to build a person’s self-esteem up, not tear it down.