Changing the Value of Our World Through Changing How We Value Ourselves
Adelia Nunn, Division 2, 12th grade

Ninety-one percent of women feel like their body isn’t good enough (“11 Facts About Body Image”). 68% of college-aged men feel like they should have more muscle (National Eating Disorders Association). 30 million Americans have struggled with an eating disorder at some point in their life (National Eating Disorders Association). Negative body image is a widespread and harmful problem which tears families apart and breaks individuals down. In short, our world would be a better place if people learned to accept themselves. I have a 3-pronged approach for minimizing negative body image-informing people about the problems caused by negative body image, supporting people in their struggles, and fighting against the media that causes negative body image.

So many people have negative body image and consequent eating disorders, yet, so many people feel isolated in the midst of these struggles. Raising awareness of the extent of negative body image and eating disorders helps those affected to feel more comfortable reaching out for help. Additionally, when people know more about negative body image and eating disorders, they feel more comfortable helping those they see struggling. The support that information provides can make a large difference in body image. Currently, I give presentations at my school to help faculty and students learn about the consequences of negative body image and how they can help improve the negative body image of those around them. Continuing to do these presentations in more settings and locations is a way I could improve the mental health of our society. Through informing about this issue by means of presentations, people will begin reaching up for a helping hand, and, in turn, others will begin reaching out their hand to those they see stumbling.
While information is powerful, personal support is also necessary to cause change. When someone is told they are beautiful, even if they don’t believe it, that uplifting message is implanted in their mind; this means that instead of solely negative thoughts in their mind, there is a positive one too. With that addition of a piece of positive to fight against all the pieces of negative, a balance begins to form. Thus, support is one of the ways I plan on making this self-doubting world a better place. Complimenting everyone I see in a day is a way of offering this support. An even more powerful way of offering this support is contradicting someone’s self-sabotaging thoughts. For instance, when someone says they need to lose weight, I’ll reply back with a comment about how that is only necessary if they are diagnosed as unhealthy. This logical contradiction balances out that scale of body image more than flattery because it both denies and finds a flaw in the negative thoughts, making them less believable. Once a person is constantly bombarded with compliments and corrections like this, the balance starts moving towards where positive is equal to negative. I can’t drown out the negative thoughts of everyone, however; therefore, I will also challenge others to support one another, in order to extend the positivity beyond my reach. Through TED Talks, YouTube, and other forms of social media, I could start challenging people to sincerely compliment everyone they see in a day at least once. If this challenge successfully spread, the positive thoughts in everyone’s minds would start becoming heavier than the negative.

Support and information are the first steps to eliminating the negative body image that haunts our world. But in order to truly improve anything, one must get rid of the cause-to turn off the music, one must turn off the radio; to change body image, one must change the media. Models with their emaciated figures, dieting programs with their obsessions over weight, and health companies with their false BMI (Body Mass Index) measurements all contribute to the problem of negative body image. Therefore, more important than informing communities about negative body image and supporting those around me, is fixing the media. The Media lies, and its lies feed negative body image: The National Institute of Health published a false BMI that makes more people feel like they need to change themselves (Bacon, Aphramor). Models die on the runway from heart attacks because of their thinness and are portrayed as healthy(Garces). Dieting programs are said to work when the majority of them lead to obsessive behaviors that then lead to eating disorders and more self-doubt(Selig). The media’s moneymaking falsehoods are causing the negative body image in our world, and the only way to stop the media from doing this is to change it. How? I need to start advocating for non-photo shopped models. I need to research and provide evidence for why dieting programs should require a prescription. I can’t just spread ideas. Information and positivity are a start, but to eliminate negative body image, I need to destroy the source of the negativity.

Negative body image harms the majority of the population. The damage it inflicts creates a negative atmosphere and ultimately takes away from the joy of life. To make this world a better place, negative body image needs to be stopped. Through informing, supporting, and fighting against the media, I intend to help as many people as I can feel good about their body in order to conquer the self-loathing that permeates through our society.

Works Cited
Garces, Raul. “2 Uruguayan Sisters, Both Models, Die”. World. Washington Post. 14 Feb. 2007. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
“11 Facts About Body Image”. Do Something. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
Bacon, Linda and Lucy Aphramor. Body Respect. Dallas: Benbella Books Inc, 2014. Print.
Selig, Meg. “Why Diets Don’t Work... And What Does.” Psychology Today. 21 Oct. 2010. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
“Research on Males and Eating Disorders”. Males. National Eating Disorders Association. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.
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