I remember sitting with one of my cousins one time, drawing, and she asked why I drew everyone so skinny. I replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "Because skinny is better." I was eight years old. I knew that skinnier wasn't always healthier, because I saw a magazine at the store one day about celebrities who were "Scary Skinny", but that didn't change my mind about whether being really skinny is better than being a normal size. This applies to today's children, too. Even if they know something isn't always good, they view what's usually considered as beautiful as better. Studies have shown that attractive children are usually more popular, both with classmates and with teachers. Now, the less attractive children may be even nicer and smarter than the pretty ones, but that doesn't seem to help anything.
Humans can recognize themselves in the mirror by the age of two. Girls can start to feel unhappy about their appearance only a couple years later. Now, I was lucky, because as a child I didn't have any huge self confidence issues. That came later. I mean, sure, I wished I had blonde hair and blue eyes rather than my red hair and green eyes, but it was really just because my Barbies were usually blonde, and I had a blonde friend who was gorgeous, and I thought I'd look like her with blonde hair and blue eyes. Not everyone is so lucky, some children have major issues with how they look. Over the past decade, the percentage of children getting plastic surgery is rising, and the average age of people in eating disorder clinics is dropping. 81% of American ten-year-olds claim to have dieted at least. Although puberty usually leads to a better view of themselves in boys, in girls, puberty has the opposite. The added fat, especially that on the thighs and hips just makes girls more self-conscious. Now, only three out of ten seventeen-year-olds have not attempted to diet.
A lot of people blame the media, with its rigid standards of beauty that just keep getting harder to achieve. In the nineteenth century, being beautiful meant wearing a corset. In the twenty-first century, only five percent of women can achieve the media's ideal standard of thinness. If you factor in height, hair, and face, then the number is closer to one percent. I have to agree, the media may be partially to blame. But can we really say it's all their fault? There are lots of things that can factor into how a person feels about their reflection. One of which is whether or not they were teased as a child about how they look. Is it really such a surprise to hear that if a child was teased, they're more likely to feel bad about themselves later in life? Now, I know that we can't control someone's past, or what other people say, but we can look at ourselves. There may not be a way to change the past, but we can control what we do now. Maybe if we all behave, we'll be able to focus less on what the media throws at us and more on increasing the self confidence of our children. It's a slim chance, but isn't it worth it?