March 13, 2017 • 141 views
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Waking up, the first thing Sarah* does is grab her phone from her bedside table, open Instagram and scroll through her feed filled with pictures of models. Her eyes study their stomachs, thighs and arms. To her, this is beauty at its peak; this is what she perceives as the ideal person.
Standing at 5’5” and 139 pounds, she feels inadequate. She thinks, “Would I rather have five minutes of happiness eating food, or would I rather look like the girls in those photos for spring break?” Her goal was to lose 25 pounds from 139, which would make her underweight. She ate less than 1,000 calories a day for over two weeks. She was fixated on wanting to feel skinny. It consumed her.
Sarah’s not alone. Thirty-one percent (59/191) of KHS students feel pressured to be thin. Much of the problem comes from the pressure teens place on themselves. Throughout the halls of KHS, it’s common to hear perfectly healthy students complain about their weight. They look at others and wonder why they don’t look just like them. But everyone has different body types. Certain diets or workouts might be healthy for one person and not for another, but it can be difficult to see past the numbers on the scale.
Although starting to practice healthy habits will ultimately improve one’s health, 23 percent (43/191) of KHS students are trying to lose too much weight by skipping meals or not eating the proper amounts, which results in being extremely unhealthy. According to Women’s Health Magazine, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, it’s healthy to stay in the one-to-two pound per week range. Teen girls between the ages of 13 to 18 need 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day, while active girls require 2,200 to 2,400 calories each day, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Restrictive and short-term diets have shown to be less effective than the lifestyle changes of picking the healthier food or becoming more active, according to Allison Lesko, nutritionist at Fit Flavors.
With spring break upon us, the pressure to be thin has increased dramatically. As many as 48 percent (92/191) of students have started crash diets in hopes of dropping a couple pounds as fast as possible. Teens hope that somehow the “bikini bodies” we have become accustomed to as a body standard will magically appear despite our bodies’ efforts to maintain a healthy and stable weight.
Students shouldn’t feel stressed when they try on their new swimsuit for spring break, or panic over not looking good enough for Instagram even though they are a healthy weight. There are so many different perceptions regarding weight, and the “perfect” body image has been twisted through the media, peers and even ourselves. Many students agree societal standards are unrealistic, and yet there is still a drive to achieve them.
According to Reuters, almost 9 in 10 American teenage girls say they feel pressured by the fashion and media industries to be skinny. High schoolers idolize celebrities and strive to look like models, when in reality such individuals support the unrealistic image of beauty by allowing their photos to be photoshopped or by altering their features via plastic surgery. Not only this, but many of these people we look up to struggle with the same pressure to be thin as well.
The only way to combat this skinny mentality is if we focus on learning to be able to differentiate between what’s healthy and what’s not. Nowadays, feeling comfortable in our own bodies is one of the hardest things to do. It’s our job to start with ourselves and avoid fixating our minds with what we see on social media.