“Our lives are not beauty pageants.”

-Renee Engeln

REAL PROBLEM.

70% of adolescent girls, and 45% of adolescent boys don’t like their bodies, leading to serious mental health consequences:

Body dissatisfaction is a risk factor for almost all eating disorders.

Body dissatisfaction is directly correlated to low self-esteem.

Research links body dissatisfaction to depression, isolation, and suicidal thoughts.

Body dissatisfaction is is linked to a lack of self-care including eating well, exercising and emotional awareness — if you don’t like your body, you don’t take care of it!

Body dissatisfaction is linked to risky sexual behavior — if you don’t like your body, you don’t care what happens to it!

We’ve been swimming in an appearance-obsessed culture for decades. It’s been hard to see the water get more polluted over the years with all the toxic messages we get about bodies.

These are the effects of our culture on our young girls:

  • 34% of 5-year-old girls restrain their food intake
  • 40% of girls between 5 and 9 years old wish they were thinner
  • 33% of third grade girls report that they are afraid of becoming fat
  • 28% of 5-year-old girls want their bodies to look like the women they see in movies and on TV

Understanding Others

A compilation of stories about what it is like to live in bodies outside of the culture’s narrow appearance ideal. These stories illustrate how not fitting into the dominant cultural norm can affect a person’s self-worth, equal rights, and opportunities. We are looking at appearance prejudice and it effects. BE REAL hopes this series will show the importance of valuing all bodies, and how valuing all bodies directly leads to valuing all people.

For more Understanding Others stories, follow us on Instagram #BeRealUSA.

“Our beliefs about bodies disproportionately impact those whose race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and age deviate from our default notions. The further from the default, the greater the impact. We are all affected – but not equally.”

― Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

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