How have attitudes of "normal" affected our vision of self?
This is an unfinished article: I am looking for advice on not only what is written, but what points may not have been covered that need to be covered to complete this article. Thank you very much for honest critiques and advice.
The Monster In The Mirror
Have you ever looked in the mirror and discovered that the face looking back at you wasn’t that of a human being, but a monster glared back at you, laughing, taunting, and calling you names. You tried to see past it, you cried, you yelled, you screamed, closed your eyes, and willed it to go away. But when you opened them again that monster was still there. Haunting and taunting you and you just knew he was there to stay.
It doesn’t matter what other people say. They can tell you how wonderful you are, how pretty, how sweet, how utterly beautiful they find you, and you wish you could see what they do, but you just can’t because the monster won’t let you. You stand at the mirror and you stare, wondering what others have been smoking, because you just don’t see it—there’s nothing good about you. The monster has firmly got you in his grasp and he won’t let go.
Low self esteem is a growing problem in the United States. It’s not just a problem among teenagers or women. It’s a problem that faces everyone. In a highly competitive, extremely critical world, people are struggling every day just to wake up and feel good about themselves. And that’s not promising when it’s common knowledge that we are our own worst critics. Add to that the fact that outside criticism is becoming more frequent, more intense, and more damning. How is the average person supposed to feel good, when we live in a world of people who want to tear us down?
In a society where a size two is criticized as being fat, and women who are stick thin are idealized as being the “perfect” size. These perfect women are paraded in front of us on television day and night. There is no end to the plethora of super skinny women on any number of channels that a girl can tune in to for inspiration as to what she should aspire to. And yet, as she pulls on her size ten jeans, an average and respectable size for the average and respectable girl, the monster in the mirror screams at her, “Fat ass, you really didn’t need that extra carrot stick at dinner did you?” And thus begins another sad case of anorexia in a society obsessed with skinny rather than healthy.
As if that’s not bad enough boys are taught to admire the beauty of women who look like what the media has idealized as pretty as opposed to what is healthy, therefore, the normal average girl doesn’t have a chance when compared to those who do those extra crunches and an extra thirty minutes on the treadmill every night just to achieve that super skinny look that is considered beautiful by all those but the people whose bodies just aren’t cut out for that “look”.
How are we of average proportions supposed to survive? It was encouraging to actually see ads for “Plus sized models, until those plus sized models appeared and seemed to be no more than size four. Is that really what we consider plus sized? What are we teaching young girls? While it’s true that we don’t want our children to become obese do we really want a society of anorexic children striving to meet an unreachable norm?
And it’s not just women affected by the monster of body image. Rarely are men in the public eye of average proportions and dress. They have become fitter, sleeker, sexier, just as women have become slimmer, svelter, and covered in bling. Before you know it, the nice looking boy down the street, who looked perfectly fine last month is suddenly beefed up with his six pack, and arms that could compete with Arnold, all because he started doing Steroids and pumping Iron when the Monster started screaming at him “You’re weak, man. Why can’t you look like him? Come on, move that puny ass!” And suddenly, the sweet boy who used to wave at you, and open the door when you had an armload of groceries isn’t so nice anymore , and he nearly runs you over rather than helping you because he’s trying to get to the gym because the monster is screaming at him that he’s just not good enough.
Children aren’t the cute little cherubs with pinchable cheeks that our grandparents remember. These days it’s all about the most beautiful, even for the children with even babies being adorned with make-up and jewels if it makes them that much more appealing. Clothing for tykes is no longer just cute it’s becoming flashy, expensive and even revealing, and have you checked out what your ten year old is wearing lately. Kids are being pressured to buy name brands, look like they are much older than they are, and appear a certain way. It’s not longer a simple matter of staying physically fit and active, it’s a matter of striving to achieve the perfect body as modeled to us by television, magazines, and whatever other mediums society can utilize to reach us and let us know what the majority expects of us. And as Jessica Simpson recently found out a healthy size two is subject to snide comments and harsh criticism. With the constant presence of these images, being paraded under our noses, is it any wonder that the rest of us, oh we of average descent— the majority of the population, struggle to actually feel that we are of any worth at all?
And today, we have people like Doctor Oz, who advocate things like HCG drops and 500 calorie diets so that we can achieve the perfect size. Despite the fact that by doing these things to our bodies, we are jeopardizing our health, when the monster in the mirror has you within his grasp, you will do anything, even destroy yourself to fit an image, rather than be healthy.