Taking back our bodies

Coppell High School sophomore Kristen Remidez is seen looking scared with markings on her face to resemble plastic surgery marks. The pictures explore the harmful effects of a negative social media influence as well as a poor body image. Photo by Nandini Paidesetty

Maya Palavali, Staff Writer

Scrolling through social media, careless words echoing the hallway and conversations over lunch have one thing in common: they negatively impact our image by shining a constant negative lens on our bodies.  

Panic is the only emotion I feel as I try on every item of clothing in my closet. The clothes are too tight, too loose; I feel too little, I weigh too much. My head swims and I have to sit down as the tears start to flow. “If onlys” plague my mind as I get ready for the day; and it hasn’t even begun. 

Coming back to school was hard on everyone, myself included. I have been struggling to accept myself and I was saddened by the situation at hand. Our school is riddled with body image problems. From the passing periods to lunch and everything in between, there is a negative atmosphere with snarky comments, constant comparison between students and promotion of unhealthy eating habits.

Before acknowledging the problems of body image, understanding what it is needs to be a priority. As Coppell High School sophomore Kristen Remidez puts it, body image is how somebody thinks and feels about their body. A term in of itself does not have a positive or negative connotation, but society has a tendency to twist words. 

Society has latched on to many parts of our bodies to try and control who we are.”

When further asked about what body image means, Remidez went on to say that she sees body image as typically negative, based on what she has experienced. 

Thinking poorly about ourselves is a universal message that we’re sent from an early age. Magazines, commercials, fad diets, TikTok trends – the list goes on with one main similarity: profiting off of body insecurity. It is a problem on a local level too – herbal remedies to lose weight are easily accessible throughout Coppell, fitness centers are a breeding ground for talk about the ideal standard, gyms are advertised everywhere, calories are put on every menu and “skinny living” menus provided.

Negative self body image has many consequences, with a main one of neglecting self care and basic necessities. Eating disorders, obsessive compulsive tendencies, sleeping inconsistencies can all be linked to the lack of a positive body image. It looks on surface level as skipping lunch every now and then, but the reality is much more devastating. People die due to the horrors brought onto them simply because they don’t think they’re good enough. Negative body image has the ability to consume anyone’s thought process and make them do actions to harm themselves. 

With the disordered behavior around body image, companies and anyone trying to profit off of others have been able to use it to their advantage. One of the main causes of the behavior is comparison to others; in being able to create trends based off of this fact, a select few are able to benefit while the majority suffers. Competition is also another driving force, which allows the media to grab onto it by creating the ideal body image through postings on their platforms. 

Society has latched on to many parts of our bodies to try and control who we are. Being told we’re “too much” or “too little” can result in a cycle of negative thinking. With what we’re taught, it’s almost natural to repeat the phrases we hear. In Coppell, we have no major clothing stores, let alone any tailored to fit plus sized individuals. We have no required education about health other than the rudimentary puberty talk we got at the end of elementary school and a unit in middle school. So many small parts add up to a big weight on everyone’s shoulders.

The negative view of a person’s body is not the fault of the people who face insecurities; it is the fault of people who support the ideal body standard by shaming other people. The battle of body positivity is one we need to face as a community. It is our duty to ourselves to set up a healthy environment to live in, through blocking certain accounts, gaining a better support system and learning more about ourselves. 

Solutions to creating a healthy environment include, but are not limited to: filtering out certain words or phrases throughout all social media platforms, talking to a counselor to receive other forms of help, establishing a daily eating/exercising routine, finding clothes that feel comfortable instead of just trendy, have some coping mechanisms at hand in case a situation gets too overwhelming, carrying around a stress toy and practicing mindfulness throughout the day. 

What we can do is be there for others, and mainly, give ourselves grace. You are allowed to feel uncomfortable in your skin and have insecurities. Your worth won’t ever be defined by anything that can be numerically measured; you will always be more than enough. As much as outside influences will try to lure you in to gain a profit off of you, your actions, your accomplishments, the way you see this world is what makes you worth it. Numerical units of measuring your body are only meant to keep you safe and healthy, nothing more. 

The competition you hold against yourself will be one you never emerge as a winner from because the foundation is based on external validation. On the path of self discovery, one of the first steps is to embrace who you are already. You can try all you want, but until you accept your body as what it is instead of what you think it should be, you will not be content. Making a conscious effort to take out the negative factors in your life and adding positive influences could change who you are. 

I wish I had heard this earlier, so here’s some wisdom from me to you: there are times in which you wish you could change yourself. Acknowledge that feeling while still remembering that you will always be worth a happy life.

Follow Maya (@mvpalovalley) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.