The Ms. Foundation for Women is celebrating Women’s History Month with a blog carnival featuring the voices and profiles of women across the country. This Month of Action is generously supported by our friends in Seattle.
Okay, so I’m 15, and I know I haven’t lived most of my life, yet. But I feel wise. Since I think a lot, I have been able to relate most of my problems back to the mass media’s stupid standards.
I’m super lucky that I go to a ballet school that encourages healthy, fit dancers instead of just super-skinny dancers. The “being thin is better” motive still seeps into everyone’s minds, though, through the mass media and through the pressures of the ballet world. It’s kind of scary for me because I really want to be a ballet dancer. But although there are ballet companies that pressure dancers to be really thin, there are also companies that appreciate strong, healthy, muscular dancers. So that makes me feel a little better.
I also have plenty of friends (dancers or not) who are unhappy with their bodies. I have known of several girls with eating disorders, and many of my friends try “diets” and attempt to lose weight. Of course, I always encourage them that they don’t need that and that they’re awesome the way they are… but I guess they all assume that I’m just trying to make them feel better. Seeing my friends like this makes me feel really useless and upset.
Why does this happen? Why are we all programmed to hate our bodies? I’m pretty sure you know the answer to that, but I’ll tell you anyways. The mass media. We ingest thousands of images every day featuring an unrealistic and impossible idea of beauty, and it affects us all, whether you realize it or not. Stereotypes and judgment are also super common, and those ideas come from the media, too. I actually wrote a blog about my realization having to do with the media’s influence.
Now here’s the good part: What are we doing? How are we changing these problems, to make my life, your life and a bazillion other people’s lives better? Well, we’re doing a lot. Slowly, but it’s happening. There are thousands of organizations working to smash stereotypes and redefine beauty. Protests and petitions are being started, and giant online actions are occurring. Yay! Even in the ballet world, we are beginning to break down the barriers. There are ballet dancers like Misty Copeland (a soloist at American Ballet Theatre) and Kaitlin Jenkins (a dancer and star of the ABC show “Bunheads”) who have been very successful and haven’t needed to be unhealthily thin to do it.
I hope that women of all varieties will be given the amazing opportunities that they deserve without stereotypes or judgment getting in the way. I think it’ll happen. Yeah. It will.