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The Warped Mirror

Visiting the circus is for the most part an enjoyable experience, however there is one aspect of the circus that is quite terrifying. Moments after one enters the fun house, one comes across their insecurities falsely reflected in front of them. The fun house mirrors warp the reality of a person’s physical image to different forms. Many fun house mirrors make one’s width wider in the mirror than reality. These mirrors are symbolic and display a reality that many people encounter in their daily lives. Many individuals form eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and when they see themselves in the mirror, they stare at an individual that is larger in this other dimension than in reality. People develop self-image insecurities because society has decided that that women need to fit a certain form that few women can obtain. The media has placed emphasis on women to look thin through actresses on television and runway models. Rarely in any film is the actress overweight. Many people forget that in order for actresses and models to achieve their physical frame they need to workout consistently and monitor their food intake everyday. The physical form that most women desire is hardly obtainable, however most women still strive to fit a variation of that image. I believe that society has placed an unnecessary pressure on women to fit a certain body image, however this issue needs to be resolved due the physical and emotional damage that individuals are encountering because of this pressure.
I have a friend named Nicole who weighed over three hundred pounds. She was in my Advanced Placement Art History class in high school. She was also a year older than me, but we still managed to become friends. I never cared about her weight. She was the biggest girl at our high school, but none of that bothered me. I loved that she was funny, smart, and sweet. Nicole never fell victim to the fun house mirrors. She knew that she was severely overweight, and she wasn’t looking at a skewed image of herself. After she graduated from high school I didn’t see her often, but I started to notice on her Facebook page that she was losing weight. She would post pictures of herself in different outfits and she appeared noticeably thinner. I doubted whether I was seeing things correctly. I thought to myself “Huh, is she thinner or am I imagining everything?” My suspicions were confirmed when I started to see Facebook posts from her claiming that she lost forty pounds, or other posts that said something along the lines of “I had crab tonight at Red Lobster. It was delicious and the food is very low in calories.” I was surprised at how fast she was losing weight but I found out later that she had joined WeightWatchers and that she started exercising in a regular schedule. After a few months she put a post on Facebook saying, “I lost 140 pounds.” I felt really proud of her. I looked older photos of her and compared them to new photos of her and she genuinely looked much happier in her more recent photos. In other posts she mentioned being ecstatic about finding clothes that fit her in the mall. When I think about her accomplishment, I feel a strong sense of pride for her. She gives me hope that people can reach their goals with perseverance. Nicole reached her goal in safe manners; she lost weight over a period of time and joined an organization that helped her get there in a safe way through exercise and diet.
I have another friend, Robin who I met this year in college who struggles with weight issues. She would constantly say things such as “I’m not pretty” and “I’ve always had weight issues.” It would be hard to suspect Robin of having weight issues, especially since she is very athletic. She goes to swim practice every morning at five and she has water polo at seven at night. In the beginning of the year she also tried the crew team. Robin isn’t a skinny girl, but she is not what I would consider fat. She has a strong physique. Her body is toned from all of her workouts and the sports that she has been involved in. Despite all of this, Robin is very insecure about her image. Her roommate, Sarah, on the other hand is naturally very pretty, which I believe makes Robin more self-conscious about her figure. Sarah is in a sorority and has men lined up at her door waiting to date her. Robin on the other hand has never had a boyfriend, which is a huge concern for her. She keeps mentioning that one of her sisters never had a boyfriend until she was in her late twenties, and that she hopes that will not happen to her. As a way of justifying why she has not had a boyfriend she keeps mentioning that she isn’t pretty or skinny. I had never realized how deep her insecurities were until she opened up to me about her issues. She told me that in middle school she moved from another state to Arizona and during this period of her life she reached a low point in her life. Robin had to see a psychologist to conquer her issues concerning her image. She was worried that she wouldn’t make friends because of her weight and figure. After seeing a psychologist she regained her self-confidence and joined sport teams at her school. To this very day I believe she still struggles with her self-esteem and her figure, but I am glad that she deals with these issues in a healthy manner such as working out.
I believe that most women struggle with self-image issues because society has placed a huge pressure on the whole gender to fit a certain image through the use of media. Beautiful, thin, buxom women are always portrayed in the lead female role in any movie. These actresses enforce the idea that women need to fit this type of beauty in order to fall in love or to achieve some form of happiness. This pressure that society has placed on women has caused most women to question their figure. Women spend countless dollars on weight loss pills, procedures, and products to help them conform to society’s wishes. There are many women that go to further extremes such as developing an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are more common among women than men. Although men do have pressures from society to fit a certain image they do not have the same pressures as women to fit a physical norm. There are fat male comedians on television and in movies all the time. Men that are considered highly unattractive can still get a beautiful partner through personality or wealth. They have other insecurities such as height, but women are subject to the worse physical scrutiny. Girls are taught from a very early age that beauty is essential to happiness. They are taught to wear makeup and to dress in a highly fashionable manner. Psychologically it is also proven that children prefer people that are more attractive than to those who are not attractive. Biologically it is also proven that individuals try to find the ‘most fit’ individual of the opposite gender to in order to have a higher chance of reproducing healthy offspring.
The most painful part of an eating disorder is the psychological damage. The physical damage can be very extreme as well. People have died or have been put in the hospital because of eating disorders, however the psychological damage outlives the physical damage. My friend, Robin, still suffers from self-esteem issues related to her physical image. Most women lack confidence in their physical appearance. I often question how I look. I personally don’t believe I am the prettiest girl or the thinnest girl, but I try to be happy with who I am. Women and individuals in general need to be happy with their image and should avoid falling victim to the skewed images of the fun house mirrors.





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