G.O.A.L.S – 3/28/17

This week in G.O.A.L.S we talked about the body shaming of girls and how our feelings about our bodies coincide with society’s trends of what a “perfect body” looks like. This “prime” body image that is advertised and pounded into teens’ heads leads us to body shame ourselves and tone our confidence based on how compatible we are with these current trends, causing many girls to feel anxious or ashamed when they look in the mirror. It’s difficult for girls to escape this constant pressure because even if they stop looking at magazines, social media, friends, and family are still immutable reminders of what their bodies should look like. We started our conversation with the girls by reflecting on the traits that they believe makes a “perfect” body, with the girls’ comments following along the lines of “skinny”, “thin legs”, “long legs”, etc. We realized how this is an incredibly unrealistic and exclusive body standard as we all have different bodies with quirks and kinks that make us unique, and we should start to learn how to appreciate everything about these quirks. After reflecting on this issue and how it alters the way we see each other and ourselves, we began an activity where we wrote “When I look in the mirror I see….” on a sticky note and finished the sentence, and then put them all on the board. The girls responses were varied; some explained that they see their “prettiest self”, others see simply a “person”, and the rest described themselves as invisible and depressed. The girls did not have to identify their own sticky note, but we talked about the outcomes of the activity. The girls who wrote positive comments explained how their mindset is not affected by society’s body standards, the outlook that we are trying to reinforce in all girls. In contrast, the girls who wrote comments such as “ugly” or “depressed” explained that they didn’t like the way they looked because their eyes are too far apart or their nose is too big etc. The girls who simply stated that they saw a “person” explained that they didn’t see anything special in themselves. The girls talked to each other about their feelings, both positive and negative, as they moved towards changing their mindsets to gain confidence in themselves and their bodies. To expand on this conversation, we all participated in an activity where we drew a sketch of ourselves and listed five things we love about our bodies, whether it be short hair, long nails, freckles, foot size, or even type of belly button. We were also allowed to list only one characteristic that we didn’t appreciate and work on changing our outlooks of that trait. A few of the girls struggled to identify anything they liked about themselves, highlighting teens’ lack of self-confidence in their bodies, but eventually we were all able to share the traits we embrace and why. After ending the day by talking about the serious eating disorders that result from body shaming such as anorexia and bulimia, we were lead to a conversation about weight considering that most of these disorders involve obsessing over a too light or heavy weight. Girls are commonly shamed for their weight throughout life and especially in school, and we talked about how there is a healthy weight for all of our body types but that weight differs for all of us. We also talked about the effects of fat shaming and surprisingly, many of the girls were unaware that shaming someone for being skinny is extremely prevalent for teens as well. Many girls are nagged for being “too skinny” or called “anorexic” which causes them to eat unhealthy amounts for their body type. We encouraged the girls to fight body shaming of women and stick up for those who are bullied or shamed for being themselves. In our society, girls frequently body shame themselves and/or are criticized by others when they feel that they don’t fit the “perfect” body image that is woven into our culture. We should all be aware of the impact this has on girls’ physical and mental health and work to combat body shaming by loving ourselves and helping others appreciate their bodies. So today, when or if you look in the mirror, say to yourself, “Wow, you are pretty dang awesome.” – Ellora Easton 3/28/17

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