Seventeen year old males were given a side by side photo of a girl dressed in tiny underwear, on the left showing visible bones and appearing vaguely unhealthy on the right visibly larger, but still skinny. All of them prefered the girl shown on the right. Seventeen year old girls were asked the same questions and most of them said the girl on the right as well, then I manipulated the question to which body they aspired to have. Many girls pointed knowingly at the right photo, almost offended I would ask the question, every skinny girl I asked hesitated. The “skinny” girls would pause, then I would interject with the phrase, be honest, most the skinny girls would then point solemnly to the photo on the left. I simply displayed a photo out of curiosity, eager to see if I could find patterns within answers and the reactions people had to the photos, my findings were shocking.
While searching for a distinct preference of the skinny girl verse the healthier girl I was pleased to witness most people in disgust of the skinny girl. When asked what was wrong with the girl having a skinnier body they said she appeared happier when she was bigger sized she looked washed out, faded and wasted as a person on the left. When the older generation was showed the same photo not a single person favored the skinner girl, most asked what disorder she had, commented on never wanting to appear like her, or with worried eyes, asked if she was malnurited. The Daily Camera stated Boulder, Colorado as the No.2 in overall well-being, No. 4 in healthy behaviors, No. 7 in physical health, No. 10 in access to basic needs for a healthy life and No. 27 in emotional health. My findings resulted in a few Fairview girls liking the skinnier girls, only one boy (who is skinny in stature) who liked it, implying boulder is healthy and nothing about being skinny enough to show bones is attractive. When a community strives for health within physicality along with mental state the beauty of acknowledging beauty is in all sizes comes forth.
“Every student revolves themselves around social media, I can’t help but think if we lived without social media people would be happier. That’s the point though, right? Social media is supposed to connect people to each other… I don’t look like a model, I can’t connect with someone who I would need daily surgeries to look remotely similar to.” Senior girl at Fairview was asked what it’s like to see a model’s photo on social media. “Everytime I open my instagram feed I feel awful about myself…They (models) talk about how thankful they are for what God has given them, they starve themselves, have surgeries to appear how they look, they even have people come to their house everyday to do their hair and makeup, I don’t see how they’re really all that thankful if they take such strides to change themselves.” Senior Fairview girl asked what upsets her about seeing models on instagram. “I’m not buff enough, I don’t have that jaw line thing, It’s kind of difficult to want something when in order to accomplish it you have to reconfigure your bone structure.” Senior Fairview boy asked about what media has told him is wrong with his appearance.
The way people view themselves is a growing epidemic encouraged each day with a new article and new photos uploaded every millisecond on the internet. I got curious, I googled women. Without any restrictions on, google image women. Would you want to show this to your mother? Would you feel ashamed to show Mother Teresa what comes across your computer? I would. The photos verging on pornagraphic are what teenagers compare themselves to and aspire to become each moment. Now google image girl. It’s different, these girls while slightly more clothed show maybe a more diverse and accurate set of women. Now google, perfect woman. If what came up did not make you sick to your stomach you are lying. These girls are plastic barbies that are not real, no child should look up to any of the women on this page and hope to look like them. One cannot aspire to look like someone who is a surgeons experiment and thousands of dollars of yearly maintenance to a body that was never theirs.
While researching for motivational self esteem quotes I came across a Dove campaign stating, Only 4% of Women Worldwide Consider Themselves Beautiful. The color from my face fled when I remembered the world we live in. My mother stares at the bathroom each morning and comments about being too fat, having white hairs, having stretch marks. No one looks in the mirror and has gratitude that they have enough to eat and can show it with their slight stomach the morning after. No one looks at the white hairs growing from their scalp and marvels at the wonderful life they lived and how one day they’ll be covered by and entire head full of the reminder of a fulfilled life. No one looks at the stretch marks lined across their stomach and smiles because their child was the cause of this mark and they will forever have the memory of life giving abilities stroked like paint on their skin written by God himself.
The average Boulder teenager has Snapchat and Instagram on their Iphone. They all scream the same outlandish word, vanity. The purpose of snapchat is to carry on conversations no longer than one line across your phone with the purpose of directing the attention to one’s face and superficiality made possible by doggy ears, flower crowns, and a filter that enhances the skinniness of one’s face and enlarges their eyes to appear “beautiful”. Instagram has thousands of ways to enhance photo quality up to the whiteness of a person’s teeth to the definition of someone’s abs as the show off their super fun, superposed day at the beach. The Iphone literally is about “I” about me, about a better selfie camera and easier hook up to new apps like Snapchat and Instagram both Iphone friendly and advised apps.
Throughout history the appearance of a person has determined their status in society. In the 20’s girls strived for lat breasts so as not to disturb their hanging pearls. In ancient times the pigmentation of your skin depicted the amount of time you spent outside doing labor and the amount of roundness your figure showed would correlate with the amount of food you had at your dinner table. Therefore appearing pale and soft in face would put you at a higher class than that of a skinny tan person. In the 21st century people’s views have strayed from the old fashioned ideals but led to a much scarier one. Our bodies have become a main point of interest. When people are asked what they look for most in a significant other if one responded personality their believed to be lying, joking, or they themselves are not viewed as “beautiful” to today’s standards.
Natural. No makeup. Fit. Healthy. Muscular. These were the repeating words people of all ethnicities, genders, and ages responded to when asked what “Boulder Beauty” meant to them. Media floods the ideas that everyone hates their body, media is also a source of where the unhealthy ideas are being provided. Boulder is an outlier. When given the photo of the skinny and slightly more average girl and asked which one is more beautiful one especially skinny girl looked at me and said, “Well, this one looks more like me” and looked unhappy to point to the left photo.
In an attempt to prove whether or not a certain body type is more beautiful than another I realized the models do exist, the large people do exist. Media shows us one thing, then society responds by giving it the most attention, the skinny girls are the kool-aid in the scheme of it all. In reality they are people, people who just happen to be featured most frequently and used in magazines to make society think everyone is a walking filter or photoshop. Though media may be promoting one standard of beauty the fact of the matter is no one liked the skinny girl, they preferred the right girl. A larger girl wasn’t featured in any of the surveys because I wanted to see how skinny was too skinny. The older generation is correct, she looks malnutritioned, the seniors were correct in noticing no girl from Fairview has society’s idea of a perfect body, but the kindergartners were right on the mark. When shown the photo and told which one they wanted to look like, they ate my phone.