Justice Now

J U S T I C E   N O W:
Body Image

There is nothing about us that is exactly like anyone else who has ever been born. We all have different bodies (which come in a totally amazing variety of sizes, shapes and colors.) Little kids aren't all that aware of personal appearance, but as puberty kicks in and we move from childhood into adulthood we get more and more interested in the way we look and less and less satisfied. When what we see in the mirror doesn't match our idea of "perfection" then we start feeling like there's something wrong with us. And down goes our self-esteem.

When you see a reflection of your body in a mirror or a store window, what's the first thing you notice? Do you see something you like and are proud of? ("Good hair") ("Nice arms.")? Or do you just see the things you hate? ("I'm too short." "My butt is too big." "My legs are way too skinny." ) How we see ourselves physically and how we feel about what we see is called our body image.

Every day we are bombarded by millions of messages that shape our cultural standards of beauty. From an early age, little girls learn that to be "beautiful" in whatever society they live in, means a certain thing. In the US, females have been taught by the media (TV, movies, magazines) and by older females that beautiful = thin. The average female model is 5'10' tall and weighs 110 lbs. That's someone's idea of "perfect." But the average American woman is 5'4" and weighs 144 lbs.! In the U.S., males believe that "perfect" is tall, muscular and having a full head of thick hair. But most adult men look a lot more like Homer Simpson than Brad Pitt. Even in a place like Hollywood where the world's most "beautiful" people live, movie stars spend much of their off-screen time shelling out the big bucks to personal trainers and plastic surgeons to keep them forever young and beautiful looking. So nobody, not even the beautiful people, is satisfied with they way he/she looks! That's part of the reason so many people - men and women - suffer from eating disorders.

Given that so few people fit these limited standards of beauty, it is not surprising that that most of us have a lousy body image. That is, we feel bad about the way we look. And that bad feeling comes, in part from the media, but it also comes from other people constantly making judgments about our appearance.

Many people realize that it's disrespectful to make rude comments about others because of their color, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, physical challenges, etc. But large people (children, teens and adults) are still made fun. Teasing someone about their size is a form of discrimination.. It is totally unacceptable. "Fat" jokes are not funny. And the sooner we accept the fact that people come in all different shapes and sizes, the sooner we can create a society where everyone is treated with respect and valued for who they are, not for the way they look.

To find out more about what you can do to look beyond labels,

Call the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance at 1 (800) 442-1214.

Or check out their web site at http://www.NAAFA.org

Let's talk about body image.



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