Love Yourself! // Dannet P. Palacios

What does the ideal woman look like? If you randomly ask 100 people, there will be a considerable variation in answers. However, media portrayal is always bombarding society with images of what the ideal woman looks like. Everywhere women look there are thin models portraying what women should look like. These portrayals play a role in the way women feel about their bodies. They also play a role in many eating and body disorders.

Currently in the US, teenage girls are at higher risks of malnutrition and obesity due to poor eating habits. This is a time in young women’s life where eating disorders tend to emerge. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where a person starves him or herself to lose weight and if severe enough, may result in death. Most people with this disorder, no matter how thin still believe and fear they are overweight. Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder, where the person instead of starving themselves, binges on food then either induces vomiting or takes laxatives to purge the food. They purge the food in fear of becoming overweight. Many times these disorders are accompanied with depression, high levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor body image. These eating disorders are not restricted to the adolescent years but extend into adulthood. These body image ideas usually present themselves when extremely thin models are shown in the media, which society portrays to young girls and women as having the perfect body. These young girls and women attempt extreme or fad diets and starve themselves to the point of malnutrition, to achieve society’s high expectations.

Think about the number of times that you open up a social media site and you are hit with ads about diets that promise to help you lose weight and look good. Research indicates that just 10 minutes on Facebook, or other social media sites, can lead women to feel more negative about themselves and increase negative mood states. This kind of exposure to unrealistic portrayals of women is creating generations that are consistently dissatisfied with their bodies.    

I believe it's time that as a society women stand up and refuse to acknowledge that the media’s portrayal of thin bodies is ideal, and begin portraying the beauty of women that comes in different sizes, statures, colors, and races. Stop the judgments and body shaming of our sisters and begin to embrace our individual beauty. It has to start somewhere, and the media is not going to do it as long as women keep buying into their standards.

So I ask again what does the ideal woman look like? I would answer, the ideal woman looks like she loves herself!

Written by: Dannet P. Palacios

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