Madelyn Sheaffer decided to visit the Adventure Oasis Water Park after losing 100 pounds. She felt confident and decided to wear a new bikini. She was in the water playing with her son and nephew when two employees asked her to cover her body, or leave. She felt like she was being discriminated against both her age and body because there were teenage girls around her showing the same amount of skin. But “no one’s criticizing them or making them feel ashamed or feel uncomfortable in their bodies,” Sheaffer told reporters. Body shaming can happen to everyone, but the sad truth is women are given unrealistic expectations through their entire lives. Here are 6 ways that society body shames girls, and what we can do to stop it.
1. Young Girls – Barbie Dolls
Every little girl loved her doll she had growing up. They admired their doll (or dolls) and they wanted to be like their dolls. Who wouldn’t? Especially Barbie, she was an astronaut, a race car driver and even a professional chef! Every little girl who had a Barbie wanted to be like Barbie because she was this perfect image of a strong, beautiful, skinny and successful woman.
But in reality Barbie has only one face.
Only a small percent of the world’s population can have the appearance of Barbie. But what about the other girls? They want a doll that they can look up to and admire, but there was never really another doll as popular as Barbie.
Studies have shown that girls who played with a Barbie doll growing up have more body image difficulties over other girls who played with more realistic looking dolls. This is because Barbie has an unrealistic body. Sure she is this great and amazing person that girls look up to and want to be but then when it comes down to Barbie’s body, it isn’t natural. It is literally impossible to have Barbie’s body and if you were to get surgeries to get her body you would be facing a lot of health problems.
For young girls at the ages of 6 or younger to be thinking about how there is something wrong with their body causes horrible long-term effects, like anorexia, low body image and more. In reality Barbie is one person and just because you don’t look like her, doesn’t mean you aren’t as amazing and beautiful as she is.
What We Can Do To Stop It
Steps have already been taken to fix these problems with Barbie. In 2016 a new line of Barbie Dolls came out, that represent all sorts of girls of different body types, heights, and ethnicity. Check Out this Video below that talks about how the makers of Barbie are changing how she looks.
2. The Modeling Industry
We’re all teenagers and we have all seen the supermodels on the runway or the girl on the cover of vogue. We have seen how small their bodies are, and sometimes compared them to our own. But most of the girls on the covers of the famous magazines are photo shopped, and every single one of them are given pressures that cause them to become that skinny.
But it isn’t the model’s fault at all.
It is the industry they work in that says they can’t make it if they aren’t that skinny. It is a harsh and difficult place to make it in but girls still become models because it is great money if you do make it. But the harsh truth is that it affects both the model and the girls who see them on the runway or in the magazine. The girls looking at these models get this idea that they are supposed to look like that.
We have all thought about things like you can’t be a model if your not ‘pretty’ right? So since the girl on that cover is ‘pretty’ she must be what I need to look like. And if she is ‘pretty’ then her body probably helps make her ‘pretty’ right? So obviously something is wrong with my body.
Thoughts like those, swarm the heads of most growing girls. When we are teenagers we are figuring out who we want to be and just trying to figure out our place in the world, and when we see that these famous people are all beautiful and skinny, it messes with our heads and some of us think that THAT is what being pretty is like, having a nice face and a nice body. But it isn’t. Everyone is beautiful and pretty, society just makes it seem that you need to have this or that to be their definition of pretty. And people just want to know their place in society.
Models also face a pressure in the industry. So many models are told that they need to drop some weight in order to even make it in the industry. Even models like Cara Delevingne who are still really skinny are told they are still to big. Some can keep positive attitudes about their bodies but others can’t all the time.
Tyra Banks is a perfect example of someone who was pressured by the modeling industry. She became a famous model in France but as she grew older she developed curves. Her agency wanted to drop her because there was an entire list of designers who no longer wanted to work with her. Imagine being a young woman hearing that you can’t do something because you have curves. Her story had a happy end because she ended up becoming a Victoria’s Secret model but there are tons of girls who were denied success in the modeling industry because they had curves.
What We Can Do To Stop It
For one we could ban photo shop used on models, leave them how they are because no matter what they look like or what size they are they are beautiful. There have been stores who banned photoshop from being used on their models, but there continues to be companies that use excessive photoshop to change their models.
Not only that but by taking a small step to accepting someone for how they really look would slowly help the industry. Another way to help fix the industry is for the modeling agencies to stop putting pressures on the models, not only does it cause the models to have body image problems and also the people looking in the magazines or watching the runway shows develop these issues.
3. ‘One Size Fits All’
Having the one size and then saying it fits all when it doesn’t is just degrading to women. It is basically telling girls that if you are not this size there is obviously something wrong with you. Which is a big pile of lies. But it is hard to see that when you try on a cute skirt and you realize your hips are too wide to buy it. Anyone should be able to shop anywhere they want and buy anything they want. But they can’t at certain places because of one size fits all clothing.
One size definitely doesn’t fit all. And just because it doesn’t fit you doesn’t mean your fat, huge or that something is wrong with you. Because the real problem comes from the people who decided to make the one size fits all in the first place. Check out this Video below that is from Buzzfeed, it is about women of different sizes trying on one size fits all clothing.
What Can We Do To Stop It
Designers like Brandy Melville need to stop the one size fits all because it degrades women when they don’t fit into the clothes they have. The designers make the clothes to fit only the small amount of people who have a model body and barely anyone has that body.
4. Girls vs Girls
Teenage girls who are body shamed or feel down about their bodies often take their hurt out onto other girls.
It is almost like a cycle that happens where one girl is body shamed so they body shame another girl then it goes to another girl then to another. It is just a body shaming cycle. Girls are told by each other that they aren’t skinny enough so they can’t wear that dress and it leads them to think that something is wrong with them. That something is wrong with their bodies.
There never is anything wrong with someone’s body, because everyone’s body is their own and everyone’s body is perfect the way it is.
Some women feel that it is alright to beat someone down based on their various sizes, numbers and weights. But really who cares about that stuff? None of it should matter and if people keep acting like it does matter body shaming will never end.
What We Can Do To Stop It
We can stop the cycle of girls hurting other girls by just stopping it. It sounds hard or even too easy, but all it takes is one girl to just stop and not continue the cycle onto another girl.
It wouldn’t stop body shaming in general because it comes from a lot of other sources. But ending the cycle from girl to girl would help people find support from other body shaming sources. Instead of tearing each other down we could build each other up to a point where it wouldn’t matter what the model in the magazine looked like, or if you weren’t the smallest person ever, because you would feel on top of the world with the people that it matters most with.
If we can just stop body shaming people we can see we are all the same and size never matters, it is what is on the inside that determines beauty. If we could just stop judging everybody maybe there would be less hate in the world and more room for love. Instead of tearing someone down build them up.
You’d be surprised how much better you feel about yourself.
5. Self Body Shaming
A lot of times we as girls bring ourselves down. We get these expectations about what we should be like and what we want to be like and when we aren’t like that we hurt ourselves. We put ourselves down through the smallest things, like seeing ourselves in a picture that we don’t look very good in. Or trying clothes on in a store and thinking a smaller size fits you when it doesn’t.
They seem like little things, but little things add up.
When we point out imperfections we begin to hurt ourselves, and it is a downwards spiral to us finding more things that we hate about ourselves that we begin to hate. All the things we hate about ourselves aren’t even bad, we just get it in our heads that they are bad because ‘my friend doesn’t have that and I do, or she has that and I don’t’.
Sometimes we self body shame ourselves because we feel like someone will judge us for something we do or wear. More often or not we overthink things and people don’t actually think the same things that we think of ourselves. Here is a video that shows a bit about self shaming and how others can think really positive things even when you don’t think that.
What We Can Do To Stop It
It never matters what other people think of your body, or how they think you look in whatever it is your wearing. It matters how you feel about yourself. It is also important to put aside every little imperfection you think you have.
I guarantee the freckles aren’t as bad as you think, or the mole, or the scar or even if you don’t wear a size zero, even if you might not look like Barbie, because you are all beautiful and if people stop thinking little things like that are bad, then the body shaming will come to an end eventually. We all need to learn how to love ourselves and everyone around us, and learn to love the differences among us.
Featured Image by Vero Photoart on Pexels