Through Society’s Mask

**This post contains triggers about eating disorders, self esteem, self harm, and more pertaining to these subjects.

***(I wrote this paper nearly a year ago for my English class, and recently dug it back up. I’ve decided to post it here because I believe many people can benefit from this. In this essay I don’t discuss how society can affect men’s opinions of themselves and the harm it can do to them because the paper was to be specifically about the effects on women. I would like to do a paper about this, however, and I certainly will if someone requests this. Feel free to express your own opinions on the subject in the comments. However, if I say something that offends you, I can assure you that is not my intention. Simply address it in the comments and we can discuss it. Thanks!)

Anorexia, Bulimia, self-harm; what do these things have in common? They are all caused by the influence of society. Everywhere you look, there are images of photoshopped women pressuring girls to be like them. Our society deems that women should rely on other people’s opinions to feel a certain way about themselves. Why some people say that this is healthy motivation for girls, I will never know. All I do know is that we need real women on billboards inspiring girls to be themselves.

From magazines to internet advertisements, unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies have spread like wildfire. Everyone is affected by the cruel, superficial outlook society projects onto this situation. All of the false advertising can seep into young women’s minds, and it can make them feel unworthy. What people do not see is how much photo enhancement goes into these pictures. The internet’s “magic diet pills” do not help young women’s cases either. Needless to say, their side effects may include: low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, and eating disorders.

Society tells each and every female that they should live up to their friends’, families’, and even strangers’ opinions and standards. It is such a popular campaign that people actually begin believing it. These are the false gods of our world. What we should be doing is promoting self-respect and self-love. If you cannot love yourself, then how do you expect others to treat you respectfully? Society’s principles and commandments can invade the homes of influenced females. As if they do not receive enough pressure at school or work, they also have to listen to it at home. One small comment on a woman’s weight or appearance can change her own opinions of her body for the entire span of her life. Be wary of what you say.

Some people believe all of the false promotions can motivate women to improve the current states of their bodies. All of the “motivation” can cause eating disorders. Starving yourself is not going to do anything healthy to your body. No matter how low the number on the scale gets, there will always be a lingering desire to lose another pound. On the February 2014 cover of Seventeen magazine, a material for adolescent girls, an actress’s struggle with an eating disorder was shamelessly overshadowed by an article for how to get an “insane body” (BR Admin). This is how advertisements blur the focus of young women.

Some may think all the advertising can shed a light of reality on young women’s minds. I have news for them: women are not the picturesque Barbie dolls they portray on magazine covers. In fact, “the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females” (“Eating Disorders Statistics”). Reality is certainly not a Hardee’s commercial or the cover of Vogue. Beauty is a combination of personalities, genetics, character, and grace. You cannot change who you are, but you can change your opinions on yourself.

Others may say society’s lies can become an “outward expression” for females. I do not believe self-harm can be regarded as so. This “self-expression” element of the act makes the victim feel as if it is okay to cut, burn, or inflict pain on themselves in general. The orange ribbon for self-harm awareness is there for a reason: too many people ignore or dismiss the issue. Those who have harmed themselves in the past may think even lower of themselves than before, merely because of having done so. Megan, a former self-harm victim, shared with abc.net about her experience: “Having such low self-esteem, seeing damage done to yourself really kind of justifies your negative existence.” In my opinion, these are the women—real, strong, beautiful women—who should be given the attention in our society.

My point is: women should feel comfortable in their own skin. Whether they are short or tall, overweight or underweight, they should love themselves. Regardless of what others think of them, self-respect is more beautiful than any diet pill or weight loss program. No one has the right to tell them who they should and should not be. Join with me in demanding real beauty in a fake society.

Works Cited

BR Admin. “Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds.” Beauty Redefined, 2014. Beauty

Redefined. Beauty Redefined. 6 December 2014

<http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/>.

“Eating Disorders Statistics.” ANAD, 2014. ANAD. ANAD. 6 December 2014

<http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/>

Rice, Deborah. “New statistics reveal dramatic increase in self-harm hospitalisations for young

Australian women.” ABC, 2014. ABC. ABC. 6 December 2014   <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-23/alarming-spike-in-self-harm-in-australian-women/4902384>

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