Self-image: the idea one has of their own abilities, appearance, and personality. It is a relatively simple noun which impacts almost every single part of a person’s day and life. Although self-positivity has become increasingly mainstream and highlighted by topics such as the feminist movement, teenagers, especially girls, are notorious for being self-conscious. 20 girls at Allen D. Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Florida, of differing backgrounds participated in a survey about self-perception and their responses are integrated within the rest of the paragraphs.
In day and age of social media, it has become a societal paradox of the narcissism affiliated with taking selfies and posting about what is for dinner, meanwhile scrolling through Twitter and wishing one could look like that other “perfect” girl. Social media can either boost one’s confidence or be detrimental to it.
I know if I posted a selfie and it got slim to none ‘likes’ I literally feel like the ugliest person.”
On the other hand, another girl remarks that “posting pictures that I think look good in and then having other people think the same is validating, and I feel like there is nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t determine your worth based off of likes.”
Likes and comments greatly impact how teens view what they post, seeking the approval of other peers.
Social media does affect you, because you have the power to see all of the beautiful, skinny, edited models and famous stars; it makes you wish you looked like them or think if you did you could be famous too.”
Besides just social media, magazines, television and more never cease to be studded with women that seem to be of unattainable proportions and possess near-perfect facial features. While it is old news that these celebrities are often lathered with make-up or highly edited, it is natural for developing bodies and minds to compare themselves to the images they are so often exposed to.
Sometimes, though, the exposure can be positive.
As representation of more ethnicities, races and body types becomes more common.
Seeing photos of models, especially when they have the same features as I do, inspires me to be proud of who I am”
Recent years have been pretty amazing for reaching out to different groups of women. In 2016 Ashely Graham became the first plus sized model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, showcasing that any healthy size is beautiful.
Furthermore, Aerie, a women’s apparel brand, began a campaign encouraging girls to get #REAL, using Photoshop free advertisements.
In an ever-changing and developing world, the topic of feminism in recent years has greatly shaped how many young girls view themselves. Although feminism is still controversial in 2017, it is a fact that the attitudes of many adolescents has been sculpted by this so-called “third wave” of feminism.
It is a very interesting time to be a young feminist in 2017,” said one participant. “We are breaking barriers that people didn’t even know existed. When the topic of feminism is brought up and people get uncomfortable is how you know it should be addressed, people wouldn’t be uncomfortable if something wasn’t wrong.”
So how can feminism contribute to a young adult’s self-perception?
I believe that the feminist movement has helped many women feel more comfortable with themselves,” states another girl, “For example, women are pressured to remove or bleach body hair, but these are things are just born with. I believe the movement has allowed women to think more openly, knowing that is truly their choice what they do with their bodies.”
One of the most remarkable components of the survey was when girls were asked, “Do any of your friends or peers make you feel uncomfortable beauty wise?”
Almost all said that the beauty of their friends was incredible, and could even be intimidating, but everyone also said their friends never purposely make them feel uncomfortable or bring them down.
As I questioned these girls, I found many of them were very passionate about the topic before them.
The stigma behind young females being one of the two extremes, either self-obsessed or self-conscious, should be erased as greater opportunities, socially, professionally and more, have become open to increasing amounts of women in recent years.
While the battle for equal representation, pay and more is still an uphill battle, the route of women fighting for this begins within their own self-perception.