Body Image and Society

I am going to tell you a story, you probably all know it. There is a beautiful young woman, who lives with her evil-stepmother and three ugly step-sisters in a little cottage. One day news arrives that the Prince must marry so he throws a ball and everyone in the girl’s family is invited. But the beautiful young woman can’t go because her ugly stepsisters are cruel and lock her inside, luckily her fairy godmother finds her and magically sends her to the ball in a beautiful gown and glass slippers and she meets the Prince, they fall in love and after a few mishaps and sad turns the ugly step sisters get what they deserve and the beautiful woman and her Prince live happily ever after.

      This fairytale, like all other fairytales, is a harmless story, isn’t it? I used to think so. The harm isn’t in telling our children that the princess was beautiful; the harm comes when we tell them that she had a good personality. In fairytales the good guy, the nice guy, the innocent princess, the hero, the one we all barrack for, almost always beautiful, like our Cinderella. In fairytales, the bad guy, the one we’re afraid of, the one who is dangerous, cruel, mean and often stupid, is always ugly.

      The underlying message here is that unattractive people like the three ugly step-sisters are mean, scary and unintelligent-we don’t like them. Attractive people are nicer and we like them more, that’s why Cinderella got the Prince right?

      A Finish study showed that 25% of seven year olds had dieted. An American study showed that over eighty percent of girls aged ten have dieted. Global studies showed that half of all girls aged 13 don’t like their appearance. By seventeen, my age, 80% of girls are unhappy with their appearance. And this statistic stays consistent with women over 18. And poor body image isn’t just a problem with girls; the pressure is on young boys and men to be masculine and attractive, like any good Prince Charming should. Right now, men and...