The Calamities of Beauty

November 29, 2007
By Peggy Zhao, Brookly, NY

“Look at your cousin. She’s so skinny and so pretty. Look at her; she’s so beautiful now but not before when she was fat. You should ask her for her dieting tips.” My mother callously says to me after we had just finished a conversation with my older cousin. I roll my eyes at her and pretend that I didn’t hear her. Although my mother thinks that she is actually helping me to a fit and healthy life, she does not realize that she is mentally bullying me with her sharp words and even sharper tongue. She does not realize that although I ignore her, those words still echo through my head as I consciously pick a salad over pizza, as I run around to get a ball during gym, as I walk around in shorts in public.

However, I am not the only one affected by this, this dissatisfaction with my body, this grain of doubt about whether I’m skinny enough, whether I’m pretty enough. Everyday millions of girls look into the mirror and are revolted by their reflections. Everyday millions of girls see rolls of fat on their stick skinny frames and can’t bear to think of food. Everyday millions of girls are constantly criticizing themselves about their weight, approximately 15 million girls to be exact, about five percent of the population in the United States (www.anred.com). 15 million girls have anorexia and bulimia, 15 million girls. Think about the numbers.

With this in mind, think about why do so many girls have these mental illnesses? We are taught at a very young age that beauty is what is valued in society. I’m sure that in the fairytales that we have heard always involved a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, and the ugly witch. We learn that beauty is good and ugliness is evil. And from that we learn that fat people are ugly, after all, we never see a fat princess do we? We are twisted into thinking that skinny is the only beautiful. We see that the “Most Beautiful Woman of The Year,” is always skinny and we try to mimic what we see in the media. What the media pushes towards us is right. And from the media we always see that the girls that are the most beautiful are slim and they are the famous ones, they are the ones that people like the most. We trick ourselves into thinking that maybe if we are skinny, we can be one step closer to what that celebrity is, what she represents. Fame. Fortune. Beauty. Many girls starve themselves; throw up after every meal to try to be beautiful.

The media is scoured everyday by million of girls looking for the latest trends and style tips from celebrities. We consciously observe in magazines that for every picture of a “plus size” model, there are about forty “normal” size models. We watch “America’s Next Top Model” on television and notice how the plus size model is a size six and is always eliminated after the third round. The most curious thing is that the average American woman is a size fourteen and six is already “plus size” in the fashion industry (http://www.webmd.com). Actresses and singers are being defined as curvy when their thighs are not even the size of a celery stick. Is it no wonder that girls are having trouble defining what is “healthy?”

Although we see the “skinny” life as glamorous and fabulous, eating disorders are not the right way to achieve this. These eating disorders are mental illnesses that can cause more damage than good. You might look skinny and fit, but your teeth are eroding away from all the stomach acids you just hurled up, the walls of your stomach and esophagus are tearing apart, you start fainting, you have an inability to concentrate, you start having blood pressure problems, and you can even develop depression (Dr. Dowshen and Dr. Versteeg, http://kidshealth.org) (Dr Hickin, http://www.concernedcounseling.com). The idea of beautiful doesn’t seem to be that appealing anymore does it? Even with this knowledge, it still doesn’t stop many from doing this anyway. What we know doesn’t change us; it’s what we do to ourselves that changes us. So next time instead of running to the bathroom to throw up all those calories you just ate, head for the gym instead. Participate in some sports; even doing some squats on your free time is healthier. This is the road to what is beautiful.


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This article has 58 comments.


Jmh24 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 22 2017 at 8:46 pm
Jmh24 BRONZE, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
4 articles 1 photo 8 comments
I love that you felt the need to expose the views that society has forced upon many teenagers. Eating disorders are mental illnesses (like you pointed out) and so many people (generally female teenagers, although males can also struggle with it - it's just less common) and it's s subject that a lot of people don't enjoy talking about but it's also a very serious and REAL situation that is going on without anyone who is taking it as seriously as they should be. I commend you for this article that you have written and the attempt to raise awareness.

on Jul. 13 2017 at 2:55 pm
Great article!

on May. 13 2017 at 6:58 am
Veerangana DIAMOND, New Delhi , Other
92 articles 0 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Grind the grind before the grind grinds you"

I totally agree. Great job!

Kip.lu SILVER said...
on May. 5 2017 at 2:33 am
Kip.lu SILVER, Tirana, Other
5 articles 0 photos 32 comments
OMG OMG OMG LOVE LOVE

Eswzem BRONZE said...
on Apr. 21 2017 at 12:11 pm
Eswzem BRONZE, New Castle, Pennsylvania
4 articles 9 photos 67 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind."

Amazing article! I, among many other teens, struggle with body image. There's so much negitivity towards our different body types. We have to remember that we are beautiful, no matter what someone else says. You did a great job reminding us of that and I thank you!

on Mar. 17 2017 at 9:40 pm
eshaansoman SILVER, Hillsborough, New Jersey
8 articles 0 photos 30 comments
This is amazing! check out my work too :)

antea GOLD said...
on Feb. 20 2017 at 2:35 am
antea GOLD, Tirana, Other
10 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Not all who wander, are lost..."

This is a really good essay! I think everyone should read this piece!

on Feb. 20 2017 at 2:22 am
LolGeorge SILVER, Tirana, Other
6 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take." -Tumblr

This piece of writing is very well thought out. Good Job!!!

on Dec. 1 2016 at 10:08 pm
QueenIsland123 BRONZE, Dubai, Other
4 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
It always seem impossible until it is done -Nelson Mandela

This is such a good piece of work! I think it is so important that girls all over the world realise that you don't have to be skinny to be beautiful!

njbibjb said...
on Oct. 6 2016 at 11:08 am
this happens to guys to. we just don't complain as much

on Sep. 9 2016 at 12:33 pm
hurryth3ninjasarecoming GOLD, London, Kentucky
12 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
I do not love you as I did yesterday

Thank you for this! I needed this today, as I struggle with body image. I skip meals and choose less. Thank you for reminding me that my boyfriend is right, I am not ugly and I don't need to be rail thin to be beautiful.

Anababy said...
on Sep. 6 2016 at 10:56 am
Anababy, Orlando, Florida
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
It was so powerful It actually reminds me of... Me I know that true beauty comes from the inside but I alsowant to look beautiful on the outside do you have any suggsetions I could get to help me accomplish that without doiing things like what was said in the article i could really use some.

zoe22 GOLD said...
on Aug. 24 2016 at 5:05 am
zoe22 GOLD, Vienna, Virginia
15 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A drop in the ocean, a change in the weather," Ron Pope

So powerful and yet so true in the world of feminism. People must come to their senses that "skinny" is not perfect and the beauty inside is what really matters. Nice work!

on Jun. 9 2016 at 8:16 pm
justwriting2 BRONZE, Seattle, Washington
2 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read."
~Groucho Marx

This is such a powerful peice. You bring light on this important problem. Keep writing!

MissJade GOLD said...
on May. 23 2016 at 12:59 pm
MissJade GOLD, Bridgman, Michigan
16 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness."

Brought some much needed light to these problems. Excellent job.

on May. 8 2016 at 8:58 pm
dont.cry.little.girl. SILVER, Ooltewah, Tennessee
7 articles 0 photos 46 comments
This piece is beautiful, haunting, and remarkably educational. Eating disorders are not something to be taken lightly and seeing a change in the way people view the role of beauty in our culture is reassuring. Thank you so much for your work. Very well done.

rakhshi SILVER said...
on Apr. 29 2016 at 1:12 pm
rakhshi SILVER, Patna, Other
6 articles 12 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
''NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME''

Absolutely right

rakhshi SILVER said...
on Apr. 29 2016 at 1:12 pm
rakhshi SILVER, Patna, Other
6 articles 12 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
''NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME''

Absolutely right

rakhshi SILVER said...
on Apr. 29 2016 at 1:10 pm
rakhshi SILVER, Patna, Other
6 articles 12 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
''NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME''

Same here I can understand

rakhshi SILVER said...
on Apr. 29 2016 at 1:10 pm
rakhshi SILVER, Patna, Other
6 articles 12 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
''NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME''

Same here I can understand


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