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Tag Archive for body image

Defying Cultural Standards of Beauty

By Volunteer

I am 5’9.

I am skinny.

I have a dark skin.

I used to hate all these features of my body, and every once in a while, I still struggle with them. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that what all females want…to be tall and really skinny, like models?” I hear it all the time. “You’re sooo lucky…I wish I had your body type.” Thing is, I never felt lucky.

In America, women tend to want to have tall slender bodies, because the media represents these features as the “norm.” This is not the case in my culture. In the African culture, my body features are considered “unattractive,” “manly” and even “ugly.” In my culture, men want women who are 5 feet tall, with light skin and curvaceous bodies. I have always felt self-conscious about my body because I am the EXACT opposite of what men in my culture consider to be beautiful.

Instead of being 5 feet tall, I feel like a giant at almost 6 feet tall. Instead of having big breasts, child bearing hips and a voluptuous rear end, I feel ugly because my breasts are barely an A cup and my torso is thin. I have felt ugly for a large portion of my life because of my body type. I do not represent the ideal of feminine beauty in my culture, which is something I know American women struggle with daily as well.

Instead of having light skin, I am dark, which is not appreciated by African or American standards of beauty. I’ve always felt like the dark skin is automatically seen as unattractive to men. As a matter of fact, many media communicators have been accused of “whitewashing” the skin of African American people by making their pictures lighter, and there is an abundance of visual evidence to prove this.

thVC1GKBEBI have judged myself against the African standard of beauty for most of my life. However, as I approach adulthood, I am beginning to see that my features are unique. I am my own person on the inside and I love who I am. It is only fitting that I learn to accept the person I am on the outside. I am beginning to see beauty standards at face value. I do not need to fit into African or American beauty standards, nor do I want to. Unfortunately, beauty standards are driven into our heads from a young age, so it took me a long six years to realize that I am beautiful just the way I am.

I’ve had my ups and downs, but I made it to a place where I am happy with myself inside and out. I always used to look down on myself, despite what people told me. Every time I’d leave my house I would hear people telling me that I was stunning, beautiful, model like, and that I look like a goddess. I couldn’t hear them because of my own negative thoughts. Comments like these made me wonder why I was having all of these negative thoughts in the first place – and then it clicked. I was wishing so hard to be something that was preferred by my culture. I decided then that I would not let any cultural norm dictate what was beautiful and what was not.

It does not matter at all what people think of you – all that matters is what you think of yourself and I know now that I am beautiful inside and out despite the preference of any culture. To anyone out there struggling with your body image, just know that you are beautiful no matter what anyone says. Speak to yourself in ways that affirm your beauty.

I am a stunning 5’9!

I have a strong slender body!

I have smooth and silky dark skin!

And I love myself!

 

We Determine Our Own Perfection

By Madinah Lawton

This is for girls who don’t like their bodies – for girls who often second guess themselves. I have a message for you, and it is this: You are perfect just the way you are.

Believe me when I say – I know how it feels to be judged. I used to think I wasn’t pretty because I didn’t look like the girls at my school. I didn’t look like the images on Instagram, Facebook, and in magazines. I used to think I wasn’t pretty because of my height. I am 16 years old and 6 feet tall. When I’d get teased about my height I felt like being tall wasn’t attractive. I secretly wished for the growing to stop. I was always the subject of the “basketball” and “giraffe” jokes. Trust me I’ve heard them all.

In addition to my height, I used to believe that I wasn’t pretty because I have scars on my face. I would always measure myself against other girls, and I’d always be the only one with a scarred face. Then, there was my body frame. I have always been extremely skinny, and I did not like this about myself. I weighed less than my friends and they would tease me about it. I’d laugh, but on the inside I was ashamed. I would eat all the time just to gain weight. I felt ugly and frail.

The boys I had crushes on didn’t like me back. In fact, it seemed that most boys would make fun of me and call me names, which made me feel worthless and even more ugly. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough.

One fateful day, I decided to join my school’s basketball team. To my surprise, basketball was something I was good at and it made me feel confident playing. It was an activity where my height was actually an advantage. In addition to the personal enjoyment I felt when playing basketball, I also felt a huge sense of pride. I was good at this game.

My mom has also been a huge inspiration to me. She taught me how to love myself. No matter how low and unattractive I felt, my mom was always there telling me what a beautiful young woman I’d become. This allowed me to change my perception of myself. I stopped doubting and worrying about how I looked and started embracing the beauty that had always been there, even when I failed to see it. It took me a while, but finally, I realized that I am pretty just the way I am. I realized that I should embrace my body even if others don’t. My self-worth had nothing to do with the opinions of negative people, and it was my mom’s positivity that showed me that.432be30dc432c651eabbb8768fa7069e[1]

My cousins and my parents used to tell me that I was beautiful and the more they said this to me the more I believed it. I didn’t care what boy called me ugly because I knew I was not. I still felt a little bad when I saw models with hair draping down their backs, because I knew this would never be me, but learning how to be a conscious media consumer taught me that a large part of what I see in the media is not reality, and I know that models have insecurities as well. Not everyone has high self-esteem.

After so many years of hating my height, I discovered that it was a gift. It allowed me to be a talented basketball player and I felt like it created opportunities for me that I might otherwise not have had. I realized that I was unique among my friends. Remember my message. It doesn’t matter if you’re big, small, tall, short, dark, light or skinny. You’re beautiful just the way you are. I believe that we are all made the way we are made for a reason, and this reason has nothing to do with pleasing others. What you think about yourself can be the key to your happiness. All you have to do is find the beauty that is already there.

 

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Background Information –

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

We have come to part three in the VANTAGE Student’s three-part blog series. You have now learned about the students and their research experience. Now is the time where you get to learn what they found in their research.

Data Analysis

Now that our data collection was complete it was time to analyze the results and compile our findings into our final presentation. From our research, we discovered that the majority of teenagers with eating disorders are female. However, this was not surprising to us due to our knowledge prior to this project. 9.1% of teenagers surveyed were unsure if they had an eating disorder. This is interesting because this suggests that they were not educated on the matter. Overall this statistic makes it seem as though teenagers need to have more education in school so that they can know if they suffer from an eating disorder. When asked if appearance was important to them, almost 50% of the participants chose a 4 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being very important); this tells us that body image is what these teenagers are constantly thinking about. Social media isn’t helping this cause; we found that 62.2% agreed that social media influences the way they think about themselves. From that, the ones who spend 3 or more hours on social media per day compare themselves to models, who do not portray the average American body. When asked which social media outlet was the most influential, Instagram and Snapchat won by a longshot. This tells us that there needs to be specific posts on these two applications that show positivity about body image. Social media should be a motivating and positive atmosphere that doesn’t make teenagers question their body image.

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Background Information –

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

Survey Collection

Now that you have met the VANTAGE Health Sciences team in our post last week, the students share their research report experience.

After meeting with the Emily Program Foundation for the first time, our group was extremely excited to begin working with them. We first took a tour of one of the treatment facilities and received an information session on eating disorders. We all learned a lot more about how the Emily Program structures treatment and how it differs from other treatment facilities. In taking the tour, we got to see lots of different rooms including those dedicated to yoga therapy and to group therapy. Our favorite room was the vault room, as this particular space showed the history of the building and how The Emily Program tries to keep little historical pieces of the buildings they renovate to continue the connection with their communities. After visiting the treatment center, we began to design our survey which is going to be used to collect data on the influence of social media on body image and eating disorders. We talked with Emily Monson, who is our project contact within the Foundation, to make sure that we were respectful of the emotional aspect of the topic and so that we could obtain the correct information. After perfecting our survey, we sent it out to everyone we knew from teachers, other students and even to other schools to make sure that we had a large amount responses and a large demographic. It was so exciting to see all of the responses roll in and to see all of the pie charts of the data change. I think we all sat watching them roll in during our entire project work time, fascinated by watching our work come to fruition.

 

 

 

 

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

Blog Image

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

Meet the VANTAGE Health Sciences Team

 

We are five students from the Minnetonka Healthcare Sports and Science Vantage Program. As a part of our curriculum, we chose a project that interested us and we all decided to work with the Emily Program Foundation. One of the reasons we chose this particular project was because we interact with and see peers, friends, and family who suffer from eating disorders everyday. To get a basic understanding of eating disorders, we all wrote a research paper on eating disorders, as well as the way society influences them. After doing our research, we presented what we learned to the Emily Program Foundation. We met with staff from the Emily Program Foundation who educated us on eating disorders to make sure we were all knowledgeable with every aspect of eating disorders. From that, we learned a lot more about eating disorders and how to approach/talk about them appropriately as we conducted our research.

 

Hello, my name is Jaclyn. I am a junior at Minnetonka High School. This year, I decided to take a class that was very different from a typical class at my Jaclyn Rebertusschool through a program called VANTAGE. Since I am interested in pursuing a career in the medical sciences, I chose the strand that focused on healthcare and sports science. Through this program, I have the ability to gain real-world knowledge from site visits and guest instructors. For this class, we got to choose an organization to work with for our semester project, and when the opportunity to work with the Emily Program came up, I leaped at the opportunity. This project appealed to me personally, as I know people who have struggled with eating disorders.

 

 

Hello, I’m Carson. I am junior at Minnetonka High School and am currently enrolled in the Vantage program. I chose to go into the Vantage program Carson Lennonbecause I wanted something different than the typically classroom experience. My parents were also big pushers on the program because they had heard how successful it had been to other students. I am very interested in going into the healthcare field for my profession after school. I am the current team leader for the Emily Program project. I decided that the Emily Program was the best choice for me because it’s the closest to home. I have a couple friends that have struggled with eating disorders, so when this came up as a project choice I jumped on it. I am very interested in psychology and I knew that eating disorders correlated with that as well. I had previously heard of the Emily Program through advertisements and had heard of what a great organization it was, I knew that this was the right fit for me.

 

Hi, I’m Zainab. I’m a junior at Minnetonka High School, and I participate in a program called Vantage offered here at my school. I chose to enroll in the Zainab AbdiHealth and Sports Exercise strand of the program because I am interested in pursuing a career in the Healthcare field and this program will really broaden my knowledge of different career options. For this particular strand we have semester projects, and I chose to work on the Emily Program project team because I, like my other team members, have close friends that have suffered from eating disorders, so I am interested in learning more about how eating disorders affect people, and how to make a difference in how other people view eating disorders.

 

Hi, my name is Katey Brattland. I am a junior at Minnetonka High School and participate in the Vantage Program. I chose to do Vantage because I wanted Katy Brattlandmore of a hands on real world experience and wanted to get out of the typical high school setting. I chose this particular vantage program, Healthcare and Sports Science, because my main interest is going into the medical field. The Emily Program Project interested me because I have friends who have suffered from eating disorders so I really wanted to learn more about them. I thought for this project we could actually make a change and discover useful information about teen’s experiences with eating disorders.

 

 

Hi, my name is Katie Grow. I am a senior at Minnetonka High School and I am currently enrolled in the Vantage Program. I chose to do Vantage because of Katie Growthe different real-world experiences that vantage has to offer. I have always been interested in healthcare and I was hoping that by joining Vantage, I would learn what field I want to go into. The Emily Program Project interested me because I have always been interested in mental health and psychology and I have had friends that have struggled with eating disorders.