This topic has been on my mind a lot recently, so why not write about it?
I’m not going to lie: it is kind of terrible to be a millennial teenager at times. We are bombarded with so much media and headlines. I do not think a day goes by where we do not hear about Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift or any other celebrity. Frankly, it is a little overwhelming. And with all of these tabloids, there are all these articles targeted at girls my age about losing weight or improving your clothes or whatnot. As a result, most teenage girls struggle with self-worth and body-image. We have become a culture so obsessed with varying numbers that those are all we are concerned about. It is such a shame to see girls trying to starve themselves just to see the numbers on the scale and the size of their pants go down.
Since this is everywhere, it is easy to buy into the lie. No girl is exempt from it. Honestly, this is something I’ve struggled with as well. It is everywhere. There are times to this day that I still do not like who I see in the mirror, which is kind of terrible. No girl (or guy for that matter) should think so poorly of themselves that they feel the need to deprive their body of key nutrients just to fit in. I understand people who are just naturally little; there is nothing wrong with that. It becomes wrong when you do not eat. It is okay not to like certain foods– for example, I despise pickles with every part of my being. However, there are so many nutrients that we only find in food that our bodies desperately need. Not eating at all is not a healthy way to live.
While I think it is sometimes good for people to have celebrity role models to look up to (I have a few myself), most of the pictures we see in magazines have been retouched in some way, making their bodies seem unnaturally perfect. Looking up to celebrities is not bad; trying to become like them in every way is. There is so much body-shaming going on and it needs to stop. Every person is different and nobody will ever have the “ideal body” because frankly, that is an impossible standard. For example, smaller waists and bigger backsides have become the new thing. But see, when you put on real pants rather than yoga pants, it is not so ideal, because you need a bigger size to fit over your legs and hips.
Beauty is such a relative term. Everything is beautiful in its own special way. You can find beauty in just about anything if you look for it. Freshly fallen snow and a sunrise are both beautiful and they look nothing alike. It is the same with people. Every person has their own kind of beauty. And nobody needs to be shamed for looking different than someone else.
Another thing that bugs me about the media and self-worth is all the stereotypes going around. There are very few stereotypes I actually fit, and I take pride in that. We have become so obsessed with categorizing everyone that we forget to actually enjoy people. Why are we so concerned with labels? Why do we care so much about the smallest details? We spend so much time attempting to categorize and make a “mold” for people, but in the end, that “mold” is too small and too strict for anyone to fit. I am a girl who cheered in high school, graduated with a 4.12 GPA, played soccer on a guys team, played video games growing up and was actually decent at them for a time, understands and enjoys sports, loves to read, is weirdly obsessed with history (to the point where I get really excited over new documentaries), enjoys “artsy” things like painting and music and general creativity, loves Disney AND superhero movies, wants to teach high-schoolers or college students for the rest of my life, and has an incredibly weird and varied taste in music, from Hamilton to Josh Turner to Fun. to Metallica with just about everything in between. So tell me, how would you stereotype me? Frankly, I love that I do not fit in to most stereotypes. Our culture is so into labeling that we end up hiding who we truly are just to fit in. That is ridiculous. People need to take pride in who they are, what they do, where they come from, and what they enjoy.
I recently submitted a scholarship application for Indiana future teachers. It included a writing prompt of “Why do you want to be a teacher?” While I have already written a blog post about this, some of the things I said include, “I understand that not all of my students will be “A” students, and that is perfectly fine. They need to know that an “A” is not what defines them. When I step into the classroom, I want my students to do their best. They are more than just a test score to me… I know not everyone I will encounter will love history. That is not my job. My job is to make sure my students know how to work hard and not give up. If they learn to love history along the way, then that is an added bonus.” The future generations of America need to know that labels really are not that important. Hard work, dedication, and self-acceptance are though.
Your self-worth is not something that is dependent upon other people’s opinions. It is based on your self-confidence and motivation to work hard and do your best. And that can be applied to just about anything: work, school, friendships, relationships, and family. Granted, this will be a long struggle. There are days I look in the mirror and do not like what I see. But I am working on it, and I am reminding myself that there is nothing “wrong” with me, I just look different than the media’s example.
My suggestion to those struggling with this is to surround yourself with people who constantly edify you. Another suggestion may be to stop reading all the headlines and articles. Put away the scale, mark out the size of your jeans, and stop looking for your imperfections. Remind yourself that you are perfect just the way you are and that nobody worth your time will put you down. Embrace your differences and forget about conforming to the status quo, because “you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” (~Dr. Seuss)