There’s no denying the fact that more teenage girls are falling victim to the image of perfect bodies and looks of the women they see on TV every day. Girls are constantly comparing themselves to the photo-shopped and highly-contoured women they see as role models.
Young girls are affected by the images they see on TV and often result in lack of self-confidence and self-esteem issues that affect them later in life.
Do Something, Inc., a nonprofit organization created to motivate young girls to love themselves, says that low self-esteem is more than just a stage in life, but a disorder.
“Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views herself as inadequate, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view of self permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behavior.”
A recent study done by the Heart of Leadership nonprofit organization says that more than 90 percent of girls- 15 to 17- want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
There is no doubt that this issue is impacting our young girls. But not all fall victim to it. A student at Winthrop University, a school outside of Charlotte, N.C., says the images she was comparing her body to was not on the television, but in her own mind.
“I hated myself for being my size and I hated everyone else for telling me I was pretty. I hated anyone who was thin because I could never be thin,” Robin Joyner said. “I hated everyone who tried to help me because they didn’t understand what was going on in my head.”
Latoya McDonald, director at the Emmett Scott Recreational Center and founder of the nonprofit organization, CRAVE Inc., focuses on the importance of character, respect, attitude, value and education in her program. McDonald says that many girls in her program have admitted to have an eating disorder.
“Research shows that 13 percent of girls, age 15 to 17, are currently struggling with an eating disorder or have in the past,” McDonald said. “That kind of problem is serious for someone that young of age. Their lives really hasn’t even started yet and they already are struggling with serious issues.”
As a child, Joyner said she struggled with her body image and wanted so bad to be thinner than she was.
“I hated myself for wanting to eat and being thick. My body disgusted me, my face was too chunky, my hips were too wide and my waist was too large. I felt like my body played a cruel joke on me and everyone was laughing besides me,” Joyner said.
After a long time, Joyner is finally enjoying her life by simply being herself and no one else.
“After it all, I still love myself. I just look at it as something I had to go through to learn and love myself better. It helped me become who I am today,” Joyner said.
Unlike many girls, Joyner has taken her struggles throughout her childhood and used it as a means to encourage other students to be confident in themselves. Joyner decided to start a fashion and confidence club on her campus called IAM Undefined.
“I knew I wanted something to reach out further than just people who love fashion. I wanted to use this as a way to give people that inner confidence that I once lacked,” Joyner said.
Just as Joyner is trying to make an impact on the lives’ of other girls, businesses such as Dove, launch campaigns that support women and their natural beauty despite their size, shape or looks.
With the recent addition to her family, a baby boy, Joyner says she will teach her son to always be respectful to women.
“I honestly believe that confidence for girls truly start during childhood. Just by telling a little girl she is beautiful everyday can increase her chances of not struggling with self-esteem issues in the future,” Joyner said. “I will teach my son to be kind and respectful to the women in his life and always uplift them.”
Joyner stated her main purpose of starting this group was to create the atmosphere of positivity that she never had.
“My main goal is just to create a group where people can come together to be honest with themselves and other people. After I leave Winthrop, I want this group to continue on supporting people and helping them believe in themselves,” Joyner said. “Confidence is something we all need, even though it’s the hardest to get. Everyone is beautiful in their own way because God made us all in His image, and what better way is there to be?”