Staring Through the Looking Glass | Teen Ink

Staring Through the Looking Glass

June 10, 2014
By Fiona Dougherty BRONZE, Brewster, New York
Fiona Dougherty BRONZE, Brewster, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

What do you see when you look into a mirror? Is it just your reflection or something more? In today’s world many are stuck with what their looking glass reflects,and are unable to move forward- unable to discover the wonderland beyond the looking glass.


An overlooked problem today is what’s being seen in a reflection. If you asked me everyone is beautiful in their own way, yet this is not what’s being taught. The world is hypnotized by photoshopped beauties and glamorous celebrities, whose images haunt the minds of everyday people, and we tell ourselves that we have to look like these divine models to be considered beautiful or even normal. The problem is that folks are going to extremes to meet these ideals, which are mostly fictional, and then forcing them on others. It becomes toxic in the sense that these idealists are hurting themselves and others in order to achieve the unachievable. It’s become a pandemic of the mind, a self-destructive disease that tear people apart from the inside out.

Shattered Mirrors

You can choose to not believe me but these images are trailed by shattered mirrors- shattered images of perfection and beauty, and shattered confidence,self-esteem, and shattered people. I’ve learned this through not only personal experience, but through others whom I hold close to my heart,and it’s devastating.Life is hard enough as it is and it doesn't help when people are put down by each other for not looking “normal”. People are being defined by their looks rather than personality and it’s been this way for decades, so much so it’s become harmful.Actual diseases have branched from these self-image problems like anorexia and bulimia, and it also produces bullies and self-harm,even death. A study was based on a nationally representative 2001 survey involving 13,601 students in ninth through 12th grade. The findings appear in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. About 19 percent said they had considered suicide in the previous year and about 9 percent said they had attempted it. About 65 percent of students were in the normal-weight range, but only about 54 percent perceived themselves as "about the right weight”.

" Some thought they weighed too much; others thought they were too thin."Suicide ideation was more likely even among students whose perceptions of body size deviated only slightly from `about the right weight,"' said lead author Danice Eaton, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But also he said it is also possible that adolescents who are already concerned with body image pay more attention to media images. That’s not all. An eight-year-old Jordanian boy hanged himself in his home in the northwestern city of Zarqa after bullies at his school taunted him about his deformed hand, police said. Mustafa Ahmad Abu Osheibeh, “repeatedly cried and complained to his family that he was suffering because his peers and workers at his school made fun of his right hand, which has no fingers,” a police spokesman said.“He told his mother that children at his school mockingly called him ‘the boy without fingers’. On a monday in December, he hanged himself using a belt.” Many other tragedies similar to this have occurred over the years due to misconceptions about body image.

Some statistics to go along with this problem are:
Many magazines create images that don’t really exist by using computer-modified compilations of various body parts.

73% of teenage girls who abuse diet pills and 79% of teenage girls who self-purge frequently read women’s fitness and health magazines.
81% of ten-year-olds experience a fear of being fat.
42% of 1st through 3rd grade girls say they wish they were thinner.
Adolescent girls are more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents or nuclear war.

Every year, the average adolescent sees over 5,000 advertisements mentioning attractiveness (
Unfortunately, there was an increasing amount of statistics present.

Would you want people you know to experience this pain, for your daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, to be forced to live in this realm of false idols and self-hate?

It’s one thing to have an idle and another to idealize.

Through the Looking Glass

The only way to fix this problem is to start loving ourselves. When asked what you love, many answers come out of your mouth, like family, or a friend, maybe even a pet. But are any of your answers ever yourself?

Many are coming to realize that being yourself isn’t so bad (including myself), and are beginning to try and change the way others think. Even companies that used to use methods of manipulation are starting to come to. Dove brand started the ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’, The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after a study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. Similarly to Dove, the clothing store Aerie started ‘Aerie Real’ where they leave all photos untouched, outing the use of photoshop. The effort is growing.

It’s time to bring around a belief that no matter who you are or what you look like, you are perfect, that every person is their own, and nobody can tell them otherwise. It doesn’t matter what gender,race,sexual preference,etc. that everybody and every-body is beautiful, that flaws don’t define you, but rather make you who you are- imperfections are perfect, flaws make you flawless, and beauty exists in each and everyone of us. It’s time to get rid of photoshopped models and time to show what's truly present. It’s time to accept yourself and others for who they are and throw away stereotypes and misconceptions. It’s time to stop staring,step past the looking glass, and dive into the wonderland that awaits.

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