After talking to one of my family, friends, teachers, and other members of my community, I was able to identify a population of teenagers at my high school who suffer from body-image issues and eating disorders. At my high school (and in my community in general), the majority of the parents work in the entertainment industry. Additionally, living in Los Angeles, we are all constantly surrounded by the entertainment industry and the people surrounding it. Our city as a whole is largely made up of actors and models whose jobs are based on and determined by physical appearance. I think that almost anybody living in Los Angeles can agree that there is a lot of weight placed on physical appearance and a pressure to have the “perfect appearance”. However, as a result of this, a large population of teenagers at my high school struggle with body-image issues and eating disorders.
Once I was able to identify this population of students within my community, I interviewed the counselor at my school to gain more information about body-image issues and eating disorders at my school and how it affects the lives of students at our school.
Are there any specific grades where you see that these body image issues become more prevalent?
Counselor: “Yes, 8th or 9th or 11th grade”
Are there any factors that are unique to our community that you believe contribute to this issue?
C: “Yes, I think that there is definitely an ‘LA body’ stereotype that puts a lot of pressure on the students at our school”
Do you think that these issues can affect a student’s education?
C: “Yes, very much. Often body insecurity can distract students from their education and cause them to be preoccupied in their thoughts”
Are more girls or boys effected by these issues?
C: “Most commonly girls are more affected by this issue however we do still see boys who are affected by this too.”J
Do students often come to you with body-image issues or are you mainly having to interfere and approach them and offer them help?
C: “Most often I am interfering and going to them to offer help.”
What are some basic indicators that a peer might be struggling with these issues?
C: “Some basic indicators are usually behavioral changes, obsession with food, when somebody is triggered when people talk about food or when people are eating around that person, etc.”
Are there any programs already in place at our school, that help students who are dealing with these issues?
C: “Currently we do not have any programs at our school that solely focus on body insecurity and eat disorders, however we do talk about it a little during advisory.”
UN Sustainable Development Goal #3
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
“Many more people today are living healthier lives than in the past decade. Nevertheless, people are still suffering needlessly from preventable diseases, and too many are dying prematurely. Overcoming disease and ill health will require concerted and sustained efforts, focusing on population groups and regions that have been neglected.”https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg3
As shown in the graphics below, body-image and self-esteem directly affect mental health and well-being:
An article that I recently read (by GirlsHealth.gov) talked about body image issues, specifically regarding teenagers. The article explained some of the factors that contribute to body insecurity (such as puberty). Additionally, the article also links body insecurity to lowering self-esteem which then can lead to depression (a topic we discussed in my positive-psychology course).
After having done my research, I then decided to focus on the positive psychology concept of self-confidence. Often, body-image issues and eating disorders are caused by a lack of self-confidence, so I immediately knew I needed to incorporate this positive psychology concept into the model I was going to use to implement my project into my community. I asked myself,
I asked myself…
“How can I increase self-confidence on my high school campus?”
After hours of contemplation, I decided to make posters with body-positive and motivational sayings, phrases, and images on them. Then, I put these posters on the stall doors and mirrors of the bathrooms all around my high school campus. I felt as though this would encourage self-confidence and hopefully promote body-positivity on campus. Additionally, I felt as though this could hopefully start a conversation in my community about body-image issues and eating disorders.
A couple of days later I overheard students talking about the posters in the bathroom and how they put a smile on their faces and gave them a must needed confidence boost.
Call To Action
Looking forward, I plan to continue to make a difference in my community by creating more campaigns, similar to the posters I made. By continuing my work in my community I hope to start even more conversations about body-image, eating disorders, and self-confidence.
On a larger scale, I hope that you (the viewer) can spread these messages of body-positivity and boost confidence in your own community. You could even make your own posters and put them around your own campus!! However, for now, I invite you to add to the Padlet below in order to spread positivity among everybody who views this page 🙂
“Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Mental Health.” Body Image, Self-Esteem and Mental Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2019.
“Goal 3 .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations. United Nations, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2019.
“Guest Post: Bullying in the Workplace by Anonymous.” Guest Post: Bullying in the Workplace by Anonymous ~. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2019.
Having Body Image Issues. N.p., n.d. Web.Improving Your Body Image | SexInfo Online. N.p., n.d. Web.