One of the hardest processes any person, more specifically teenagers and young adults, will have to face is the process of discovering who they are and trying to fit into “societies norm”. When hitting a certain age, may it be eleven, sixteen or even twenty-one, a person goes through stages of trying different looks, acting different, and trying to find what they like and what other people would like. This identity diffusion is a common process many eventually face. But how many children actually learn to self-love and become comfortable with who they are?
Both girls and boys face self-esteem problems and there are many reasons for it.
Society today is known for “thin” girls and “muscular” guys taking over the front page of magazines. They fool people into thinking that these celebrities really look like that. From there, the minds of readers want to look like them and feel bad that they don’t. However, readers don’t know how much editing and photo-shop goes on in these covers to give off the impression that the cover girl or boy is perfect.
Aside from magazines, social media such as Facebook and Twitter also hurt body image and self-esteem. In a CNN article, it talked about how people are now exposed to more and more images of beauty that seems near impossible due to social media.
Not only is it staring at pictures of celebrities on these sites that hurt the self-image, but it is also the pressure to find the “perfect” profile picture and to make sure the pictures you’re tagged in look presentable or are in your favor. Teenagers have spoken about social networking and the impact of it in “what it takes to be ‘liked’”.
These low self-esteem problems can lead to even worse mental problems. From self-esteem, one can move towards self-hate, which is picking on oneself for every little flaw they see, or perfectionism, which is trying to make themselves look “perfect” (and no one is perfect, so this idea just makes the person try harder to fit the “ideal image”). From that point, it goes to feeling worthless, to becoming oversensitive, to having fear and anxiety to maybe even anger.
There are also serious body issues that come from low self-esteem. If a girl or boy starts to hate their body, he or she may create the mentality that if they throw up after they eat, or just not eat in general, then they will lose weight and form the figure they desire. These two mental states are called bulimia nervosa and anorexic disorder.
What is bulimia nervosa? It is an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting follows bouts of extreme overeating.
What is anorexic disorder? Anorexic disorder, or anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their age and height. People with this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight.
To here a podcast on bulimia nervosa and anorexic disorder click here.
When thinking of an eating disorder, it is common to think of a female figure. However, males are also affected by an eating disorder. Even if the percentage may be less, it is still important to acknowledge that everyone hurts and can be affected.
Once low self-esteem and other mental problems are developed, it starts to affect the person’s daily routine and interferes with work and/or schoolwork. If one doesn’t feel happy with his or herself, then it shows through how they act and what they do. These people can start to feel like nothing else matters except how they look and what people think of them.
There are no positive benefits to having self-esteem issues. It is necessary to teach kids young about self-acceptance and teach them that they should be proud of who they are. Media needs to realize that they are creating a society where people are becoming mentally ill and won’t be able to reach their fake standards. The prevention of these illnesses and disorders is needed, for our society needs to be accepting, not judgmental.