KWHS Students’ Perspectives: Body Image Stories

Body image: insecurity relating to how you portray your body that is widespread among individuals of all genders. It is challenging to love your body image when you continuously compare what the “ideal” body looks like, whether it is through social media, such as following Instagram models or comparing yourself to your peers. “Seeing all the Instagram models online affects me and how I see my own body,” said an anonymous Key West High School (KWHS) student. “I usually compare every little part of my body to see if anything improves.” Backing up this statement, 50% of KWHS students taking a Body Image Survey said that outside influences affect how they see themselves. 

High school is one exciting ride, but it certainly has its mental downfalls. You start to care more about how you display yourself, not having the same care-free spirit you once had as a child. Fitting society’s standards are now the new life goal, trying to look the part of impossible. “I had just started high school and was pretty cool with my body,” said another student. “Then I started noticing how the girls my age were slimming out and getting their curves while I was still overweight and tall.” It’s like everyone has to have certain features to fit in, like someone made a custom Barbie doll and said, “let’s go with this.” Reflecting the same word, “impossible.”

What exactly is the “ideal” body type? Some would say for a woman, it is weighing 110 pounds, or for a man, it would be having large biceps and abdominis. However, the people that look the part do not find it as ideal as others. Another KWHS student shared, “I was always told I was ‘flat’ or ‘too small’ by people who were my friends. I don’t blame them because it doesn’t seem like something that would hurt my feelings. But it can get to your head when you work so hard towards gaining weight and muscle and aren’t successful.” The words that we want to hear aren’t necessarily what others anticipate as well. If I asked what the definition of a “perfect body” is, each individual would say a different response. 

(L-R) Andre Otto and Spencer Lannigan in Mr. Ed Smith’s video production classroom. Photo Provided by Ella Hall (@ella.b.hall)

During quarantine due to COVID-19, people saw this as an opportunity to change themselves, coming out of this dramatic experience with a positive perspective. Chloe Ting, a health influencer on all social media platforms, became a raving guide for individuals during their lots of spare quarantine time. Referring back to the poll, 66.7% of KWHS students said that people that support body changing is a positive notion. Despite that affirmation, a counter-claim was made. “Supporting the way someone looks I am all for, but we shouldn’t change or judge someone by the beauty standard,” stated another student. “We should never force change for people’s bodies.” 

Now currently with 316 million views, Chloe Ting’s “ABS in 2 Weeks” video changed people’s bodies over quarantine, and is continuing to provide an impact. Photo Provided by Chloe Ting (@chloe_t)

With every action you take, there always comes some good and bad consequences. By trying to change your body, some people develop eating disorders: psychological disorders related to abnormal eating habits, thinking that the only way to obtain a body goal is to eat more or less calories than the required amount per day. “In the 7th grade, I started developing an eating disorder. It started as little habits until I came to the point where I was very underweight, passed out, lost hair, and wasn’t feeling well at all,” mentioned one student. Likewise, over 30 million Americans have struggled with an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime, stated Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association. To find out more information on eating disorders, click here.

Looking back at the survey, 58.3% of KWHS students said they feel somewhat self-conscious about their bodies, while 37.5% were very self-conscious. This emotion is normal, but also remember that your body is unique and beautiful in its own way. That declaration is corny, I know, but it’s true. “I started looking at myself in a different light when I realized that I shouldn’t have to try and please the people around me. I am at a healthy weight, and I stay active,” said another anonymous student. By looking at other student’s perspectives on body image, I hope this changes your outlook about yourself and your peers. 

Check out more body image stories down below: 

“Everyone always tells me, ‘Omg, you’re so skinny I wish I look like you,’ and I literally hate how my body looks most days. I feel as though I look pudgy sometimes, and I hate it so much.” 

“I have been bullied a lot in my life. I have been told by family members that I ‘look unhealthy’ or it’s ‘need to eat more’. I have always struggled with how I look. Over time I have learned that everybody is different and we are different, shapes and sizes. Everybody wants what they can’t have and that will never change. I now realize to be happy with the body I have, everyone will bully at some point in their life and we have to stand strong and realize we are all perfect in our own way.”

“Going into high school, I had started to feel like I didn’t fit in because of how my body looked. I started wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts to cover up my body. 10th grade is worse with acne. I have started to feel more confident about my body because of my friends, but it is still a problem.”

“I feel waves of feeling good and times where you look at yourself in the mirror or a certain outfit and wonder, ‘do I always look that awkward?’ and a myriad of other critical complaints. But I got to remember that we’re all human, we’re imperfect, and we were created with care and loads of beautiful qualities.”

“Growing up, I was really skinny, but when I developed a severe eating disorder, my metabolism went to hell, and I put on a lot of weight that coupled with me towering over my classmates definitely didn’t help. My mother constantly worked out so she could get the ‘perfect body’ my sisters are absolutely perfect, short, skinny, long hair, and beautiful eyes, the picture of American beauty standards. I was never really self-conscious of my body until I was in 7th grade, and my friends were talking about jean sizes. 2, 4, 00 and I sat and thought to myself about the small numbers and how the jeans I had on were a 10. I felt so bad about not being skinny for so long, and then suddenly it’s good not to be skinny and being curvy was a good thing. For a while, it felt good until my younger sister mentioned how she hated being skinny, and was so self-conscious of her weight. It really hit that no matter what trend is in, if it applies to skinny people or people with a fuller figure, everyone was self conscious if they were the standard or not. I feel like it’s more important to love yourself than care about what others see.”

“I used to get bullied about my body image. Kids would call me anorexic or other names even though I eat. I just have a high metabolism rate!”

“Society has never recognized double standards. Women body shame us men for not being tall, not having abs, not having muscles, etc… They get props for it by other females. On the other hand, if a man ever did that, he would get slandered for it. There have been multiple times where I myself have asked a girl on a date, and she told me no because I was ‘too fat, not enough muscles, and no abs.’ This needs to stop.”

“I had an ED, but no one knows. I mean some friends, but they think I’m over it, but I still struggle daily. I’m undiagnosed, but I think I have orthorexia, and the more I look into it, I have all the signs and even went through a period where I would try to eat 800cals a day on lifesum. I don’t starve myself anymore, but it’s still an internal struggle I have every day.”

“I’m in track. Most people have an ideal picture of what a runner should look like, and when I first started freshman year, I told myself I did not fit the part. My calves were too skinny, and I was awkward in controlling my body. I kept going, and it did get better, but to this day, I compare myself to other teammates. Even though I’m still not satisfied with how I look, I know it’s a working process that takes time. I can appreciate that I’m getting better every day.”

“It mostly has to do with acne if that qualifies. I have always been and am currently insecure about my acne throughout high school because I would get noticeable acne waves where others would have barely any noticeable changes. Ironically now, of all times, my acne has gotten worse, and I have noticed that fact personally. At this point, I am only doing the minimum required because it will eventually pass. But, my parents are against my methods of letting my body and time handle it, and they have been pestering me about how appearance is important, and I need to take better care of my acne. I am sure that a lot of people that have parents like mine since quarantine started my parents have been nagging me over and over about appearance. Most call it vain, and Cubans call it caring for your kids. Personally, I believe that my parents influenced how I felt, but this could just be me.”

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