Is there too much pressure on females to have perfect bodies? Body dissatisfaction is one of the biggest concerns for many, particularly in girls. This concern is more related to psychological aspects rather than physical elements. Young girls and women worry that without a ‘perfect’ body, they may get rejected by society and excluded from various other social groups. Sadly, the practice of body shaming women has been in our society for hundreds of years.
In conversation with AlignThoughts, professor of psychology Dr. Carolyn Mair says, “Boys are praised for their dexterity, and their technical abilities, and girls are praised for their appearance and their ‘soft skills’.
This is reflected in traditional gendered toys and continues throughout life. So, girls become very much aware that how they look brings rewards or not. And boys become aware that what they do brings rewards. We learn to behave according to the rewards we get, reactions to our behaviors”.
Definition of Body Shaming
What does body shaming actually mean? Well, the definition of body shaming aka fat-shaming stands as “the practice of humiliating a person by mocking or degrading about their body size, shape or appearance”.
In my teaching career, I have come across girls as young as 11 years old worrying about losing their perfect body shape. This fact is alarming if you sit to think about it. There has been a decade-long debate on the amount of pressure that is put on girls to have perfect bodies. Unfortunately, all these years, nobody came forward to promote a positive self-image.
If you are someone who continually interacts with young girls, you may be very well aware of the number of times they say, “I am getting fat,” “I need to join the gym,” “I can’t wear that dress as I am too dark for it”, etc. Sadly, this proves that there is way too much pressure on girls to have perfect bodies.
As per the 2016 Girls Attitude Survey conducted by Girl Guiding UK, almost 40% of the girls aged between 7 to 21 yrs old were not happy with their looks and body.
Who’s To Blame For The Pressure On Females To Have Perfect Bodies?
1) Media and Fashion Brands
Media and fashion brands are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to pressurizing young girls to have perfect bodies. Sadly many big brands don’t take the initiative to promote positive self-image. Movies and advertisements continuously portray women having perfect bodies with size zero figure, fair skin, and ideal physique.
Moreover, the worst thing is, they ridicule the other body types and make it look like a crime to be plus-size or dark toned. This attitude is hugely impactful on the audience who start believing that only a specific body type is perfect.
Take a look at most of the movies, TV shows, or songs. Plus-size girls are used as a joke element and are made fun of. Dark skin tone is considered ugly. Advertisements also portray that if you don’t have the perfect body who may not find jobs or be able to achieve your dreams, which are complete nonsense.
2) Friends and Peers
Friends and at times peers motivate us to be our best. But knowingly or unknowingly this motivation can turn into pressure. Sometimes, male friends can also put too much pressure on females to have perfect bodies.
Friends can constantly nag or make fun of your ‘imperfect’ body. They may always ask you to join the gym or suggest some unnecessary ‘health tips’ so that you can lose weight fast.
A family is yet another factor when it comes to pressure. Parents want their daughters to look perfect. Hence, they always keep reminding them about their weight gain and appearance. The primary concern of parents is that the girl wouldn’t find a good match because of her imperfect body. Therefore, parents end up putting too much pressure on girls to have perfect bodies.
- Read this: Why family is everything?
Husbands or boyfriends can be yet another important aspect of either improving or degrading your self-esteem and body image.
Sadly, some women also fall prey to a constant fear of losing their spouses if in case they ‘change’ concerning looks or body. Sometimes, even the spouses can be insulting or rude or demeaning and therefore putting pressure to maintain a perfect body.
Society is a group of people with various views and opinions. This society can be very judgmental to women concerning their body image. Based on the media, society sets unrealistic standards of beauty and perfection for women, which are illogical and unreasonable.
How Does The Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies Impact The Lives Of Young Girls?
1) Young Girls Cultivate Low Confidence and Self Esteem
The pressure of having the perfect body is having a devastating impact on the self-esteem of young women. Women who face such pressure have portrayed low self-confidence and the ability to do any task. Further bullying and torture can lower this self-esteem to a critical point.
2) Women Have Negative Self Image
This pressure also leads to women having a negative self-image about themselves. They begin hating their body and the way they look. Young girls who hate their bodies face self-shaming thoughts daily. It decreases their confidence and also interferes with their daily activities. Instead, girls must embrace their bodies and promote positive self-image.
3) Women Are Holding Back Themselves
The negative self-image holds them back from various opportunities that may come their way. “What will people say?” is continuously their fear. Thus, they end up rejecting great job offers or other opportunities.
4) Depression On Not Having Perfect Bodies
The pressure can easily lead young women to depression.
Low confidence levels and negative self-image can lead women to feel depressed continually.
They can isolate themselves from the world and prefer to stay most of the time indoors to avoid being fat-shamed or bullied.
Furthermore, these young girls who are constantly pressurized can even indulge in self-harm. Putting their bodies through the pains of surgery, harsh beauty treatments, etc. can be taxing both financially as well as mentally. Those in depression can hurt their bodies by cutting themselves or harming themselves.
6) Impacts Health
They can switch to unguided and unhealthy diets. I have come across girls who would fast for the whole day and eat a tiny bit of randomly chosen food to give them the strength to stand throughout the day. On top of that, girls also force themselves to vomit out after every meal.
How to Eradicate The Pressure to Have Perfect Bodies?
The best way to deal with this pressure is to ignore it. Accept yourself the way you are. Every morning tell yourself that you are perfect the way you are. Believe that your abilities are beyond your looks and body image. You have much more potential. Being sexy is all about your attitude and how you perceive yourself.
2) Promote Positive Self Image
The people around us, especially the ones who have the power to influence need to make sure that they promote positive self-image. Help young girls believe in themselves rather than feel sorry about who they are. There is a difference between raising awareness about a healthy lifestyle and merely fat-shaming someone.
3) Role Models
Role models are the right candidates to answer the question – ‘Is there too much pressure on females to have perfect bodies?’ Models literally starve before their photoshoot just so that their body doesn’t look plumpy.
The media needs to put forward positive role models for young girls. Various movies and advertisements should features plus size women to help girls know that size doesn’t matter.
4) Counseling and Seminars
Specialized counseling and seminar sessions need to be organized right from the school to promote positive self-image at an early age itself. Special speakers who have excelled irrespective of their looks or religion can be asked to motivate these young minds.
5) Young Girls and Women Must Avoid These
Apart from these avoid:
- Letting someone get into your mind
- Setting unrealistic expectations from self
- Unguided diet plans
- Believing in the fake information that media provides
- Being hard on yourself
- The negativity of all sorts with regards to body image
- Wrong company of people who continuously fat shame you
“There is nothing rarer, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve Maraboli
It is Unrealistic For Women to Have Perfect Bodies – Statistics Say So!
Furthermore, we’d like to show some statistics that prove that having perfect bodies is just a myth.
- More than 90% of women are prone to cellulite.
- 70% of women naturally get stretch marks as a result of puberty.
- Less than 17% of women in America have blue eyes, which is considered to be a perfect beauty.
- Less than 3% of American women are taller than 5 feet 10 inches.
- The average women are of size 18, while most models are of size 0s, 2s or 4s.
Your Thoughts On – Is There Too Much Pressure On Females To Have Perfect Bodies?
What do you think about body fat shaming and how girls must cope with it? Is there too much pressure on females to have perfect bodies? Leave your thoughts on the comments below and help others to come out of this trap.