Batsman Matty Menzies and wicket keeper Richie Gardner practise cricket at the Metchosin pitch behind the municipal hall. The newly formed Metchosin junior team begins league play this Saturday (June 7)

BELMONT STUDENT COLUMN: Here’s the skinny on body image

Jordan Michelsen offers the latest perspective from West Shore high school

You step on the scale. You frown at the number. You suck in your stomach to see if that helps – it doesn’t. You frown at your stomach. You step off the scale.

You try to make yourself feel better in one of two ways: a cheeseburger and fries and whatever else is greasy and bad for you – since you’re already fat, what’s the harm? Or you  simply avoid food altogether; since you’re so fat, it can only do good, right?

Then you rinse and repeat, caught in a vicious cycle of insecurity and self-pity.

How many people are pleased with what they see when they look in the mirror, or when they step on a scale? Sadly, while researching this topic, I found 80 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance (psychcentral.com).

Eighty per cent seems to be the disheartening magic number. Statistics from sirc.org, the Social Issues Research Center, show 80 per cent of women overestimate their size. Among women over 18, 80 per cent are unhappy with what they see, and eight of 10 women are dissatisfied with their reflection.

I know several people who, when looking in the mirror, describe a person completely different than who I see. We see ourselves as too fat, too thin, too big in some places and too small in others. It’s easy to see why: in the media we are force-fed a lie that Photoshopped models are the only thing close to acceptable body types.

In our society, it’s hard to be satisfied with yourself, particularly your body. The UK’s Daily Mail had a study that showed three per cent of British women are completely unhappy with their body and about 73 per cent think about their weight, size and body shape daily.

Everything we see and hear in the world around us tells us we aren’t good enough.  We’re overweight, underweight, wrong body type, ugly face, splotchy skin. It’s unhealthy to be so obsessed with appearance and an unattainable standard of beauty. The effort to somehow “fix” oneself can lead to harmful habits such as eating disorders, which can have serious health implications.

Some days I struggle with whether to bother eating. Other people I know, and those I don’t, have this issue, too. They question whether eating is worth the calories it adds to their bodies, or if there’s any point trying to control their eating habits.

So much focus is put on the “perfect” image of women that guys’ body image issues are often glossed over.  As much pressure as there is on women to be slim yet curvy, men are challenged to be muscular, but not bulky. Tall, but not gangly. There’s just as much pressure on men to strive for perfection as for women.

For either gender, the problem remains the same: the perceived vision of perfection we grow up with all around us is just that – perceived. It’s dangerous to be so caught up in the lies of perfection.

Even though we all know that the images are retouched, we can’t help but feel that is what we should strive for. It’s terrifying to know someone can take a photo, manipulate it using a computer program and create something unrealistic, yet present it as something normal. There are people out there, particularly young people, who don’t realize these images are fake and think there’s something wrong with themselves.

A study published in Pediatrics magazine stated that approximately two-thirds of girls in grades 5 to 12 said pictures in magazines influence their image of an ideal body, and half of those girls stated the images made them feel they needed to lose weight. Doctored photos encourage people to turn to extremes, such as anorexia and bulimia, to try and make themselves look like the models in the photos.

For a long while, I found myself thinking less highly of myself and the people around me because we didn’t look like Photoshopped, almost-anorexic models. I guess I’m still fooled by it, sometimes; there are days where I’m still trying to understand that these media messages are false and not something attainable.

Society needs to take this message to heart. It’s time we woke up, faced the mirror and told ourselves we are already perfect. It’s time we realized that we are real people, and real people have flaws.

Jordan Michelsen is a student at Belmont secondary.

Just Posted

Friends, family remember Dan Sealey, stepson of Minister of Agriculture, in private gathering

Lana Popham confirmed Sealey died of an accidental drug overdose earlier this month at age 23

PHOTOS: Uptown lights up the holiday season

Annual event drew crowd of all ages for parade and Christmas tree lighting

New figures show City of Victoria spent $30,000 to remove Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

High school graduation rates on the rise in Greater Victoria

High school completion up from 71 to 86.8 per cent over 10 years

Mommy’s Inside Voice: A little piece of you

Mommy’s Inside Voice is a biweekly column by Amie Jay, a local mother of three

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

Most Read