Thursday, September 13, 2012

News U Can Use: "Back to School-Body Shaming"

At Seventeen, Back To School = Back To Body-Shaming

It’s back to school time, and you know what that means: back to body shaming time. For all the insecure, body-conscious teenage girls out there, Seventeen magazine comes to the rescue by telling them what’s truly important this school year: being “pretty.” Yep, forget about message like, love your body no matter what size it is or how to navigate the gross food in the cafeteria and eat healthy, Seventeen instead chooses to send the message that the way you look is what will earn you the highest grade (with the boys, of course).
Take a look at their back-to-school issue here. The biggest feature is “825 ways to look pretty” because that is of utmost importance. I say that sarcastically, but unfortunately, thanks to our media, it has become of utmost importance to many teenage girls. They are constantly bombarded with messages that tell them society values them most based on how they look. And giving them “825 Ways to Look Pretty” is only perpetuating that untruth. Not that there’s anything wrong with being pretty or wanting to feel pretty, but how about incorporating that in a more body-positive manner? Like, how to feel beautiful about your body, no matter what size or shape it is. Or, how to embrace the true beauty in everyone. Or, how to stop focusing on superficial qualities and start focusing on more important inner qualities.

Instead, Seventeen goes on to feature other articles for back-to-school like, “Shiny Hair, Perfect Skin by Your First Day of School” and “Get Everything You Want This Year–Great Body, Tons of $$$, Amazing Clothes.” No wonder young women today have such body image issues. We (society) are telling them that that’s what’s most important!

Instead of reading these headlines as the superficial messages that they are, girls are likely walking away with the notion that everything about them is wrong. Their hair is gross, their skin is a mess, their wardrobe is hideous and their body is too fat, too thin, too whatever. So they must fix all of that and buy this magazine which will surely make them perfect and pretty once they discover all 825 ways to do so. It’s shameful, isn’t it?

Seventeen‘s sister site, CosmoGirl, is not any better. If you look at their site, they feature similar senseless articles like: “30 Days of Back-to-School Outfits, Awesome Hair Ideas for School, Stars’ Favorite Fragrances, What to Wear to Every School Event, Reader’s Favorite Beauty Products and Fall’s Hottest Guys”. Granted, they do feature a somewhat healthy fitness story that’s entitled, “Work Out Like a Star,” but if you click on it, it’s all about how to burn calories and how to wear more chic, stylish clothes to the gym.

This crap is seriously messing with females today. Instead of feeling confident and secure, we are left questioning our looks and our bodies. It’s offensive and damaging. So girls and women everywhere, here is my number one tip on how to “look pretty”: go for a run and then look in the mirror. See that sweaty face? That glow? That sense of I-just-kicked-some-major-***? That’s pretty.

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