If you have scrolled down your Instagram feed or checked your Twitter recently, you’re more than likely to have seen some type of post about body image, whether it be positive or negative. This, in most instances, is a great thing. We’ve started to talk about body image and discuss the problems in society that are shaming bodies that don't fit the ‘ideal body type’. Every other post on Instagram is someone you don't know telling you to love yourself no matter what you look like. This is a great leap forward from where we were just a few years ago when ‘heroin chic’ was what all the girls wanted to be, so skinny you looked like you were a heroin addict. Although we have made great progress in this aspect of society, it still isn’t perfect, and I’m not just talking internet trolls. Take this, for example: I like the way I look. Sorry if that offends or appals you, but it's true. I don’t need boys to like me or say I’m pretty to feel that way. It took me a long time to break the limits society put on me and finally like the way I look, even if I don’t look like the people on the cover of magazines. But here’s the main problem I’ve encountered after making the revelation that I don’t have to look like Gigi Hadid to be pretty. The problem is: People don’t actually want you to be confident in yourself. Whenever a girl says she likes the way she looks, someone is there, lurking, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on that confidence and squander it. When a boy tells a girl she's pretty, they expect her to deny it and blush, and then proceeds the game of him trying to convince her she's beautiful. This is all fun and games until the girl chooses a different response, this being the one that she knows she's pretty, and knew that before the boy confirmed it for her. This display of confidence in oneself should be a celebrated thing, but even in this day and age it's looked down upon and immediately shut down. The girl is told she is cocky and “needs to chill,””, that she’s “not even that pretty anyways” and the boy just told her she was pretty to be nice. I’ve seen this situation one too many times in recent months. And it's not just girls that are affected. Boys are told to be tall and muscular and strong, and when they don’t meet these standards, they are seen as weak and girlish. These standards society holds so dear have extremely damaging effects on developing minds. To give you an example of these effects, a quote from Science News: “Adolescents with negative body image concerns are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal than those without intense dissatisfaction over their appearance, even when compared to adolescents with other psychiatric illnesses.” These staggering statistics only touch on a small handful of problems caused by body image issues, and I will not stand for it. I challenge you, the youth, to change the way you see yourself, and the way you see others. Because a world without these crushing beauty standards is a more kind hearted world.
As I'm sure many of you know, on May 22nd of this year there was an atrocious crime committed in Manchester. While little girls and preteens danced around at an Ariana Grande concert (for most in attendance it was their first concert) a suicide bomber detonated a bomb, killing twenty-two and injuring 59 others. It was a tragic event that will stick with many for the rest of their lives. So many little girls never forgetting their first concert for all the wrong reasons. Although this was a terribly sad event, the silver lining of this hellish night was that everyone banded together to help the injured, reunite lost family members, and show support for everyone affected, including Ariana Grande. Well, everyone except for James Harkin, a reporter for the British newspaper the Daily Mail. In his article "How Ariana Grande and her revealing stage outfits are a symbol of everything Islamists hate", Harkin goes into detail on why he believes that Ariana Grande being "too sexually confident" for a young lady caused the tragedy in Manchester Monday night. Yes, you read that right. Out of ALL the people to blame for this horrid crime, he blames Ariana Grande! This claim is not only appalling because he's placing all the blame on an artist who is already heartbroken about her fans being killed at her own concert, but also extremely sexist and unacceptable. Blaming a terrorist attack that killed twenty two fans on the performer because she is American, dresses how she wants, and is confident in her body is just ridiculous. Let me ask this of you. If Ariana Grande were male, would the accusations be the same? Most likely not. This is because when men are "sexually confident", they are idolized and not looked down upon. If a girl were also sexually confident, she would be looked upon as lesser or called slutty or some form of the word. I'm sure we are all sick of hearing the saying "boys will be boys" to excuse rude behavior or explain why men are allowed to be confident in their bodies and women are not. "Why would anyone target a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande? The grim answer may lie in the fact that with her revealing stage outfits, her stockings, pink bunny ears and unabashed sexual confidence, 23-year-old Miss Grande is a symbol of everything islamist hate." This quote pulled straight from the article puts a pit in my stomach. They way he said "unabashed sexual confidence" like she should be embarrassed by being sexually confident is truly upsetting. As if this was not bad enough, later on in the article (while discussing another terrorist attack focused on killing women having a ladies night in a club) he did not describe the women as innocent or victims, but as "scantily clad women drinking alcohol", as if this justified the attack, or made it any less tragic. Another thing to think about: If we stopped dressing how we wanted and covered up our bodies to avoid terrorist attacks, wouldn't that be the terrorist's ultimate victory? If we let them control our lives and take away our freedom, wouldn't that be granting them their ultimate wish of destroying the American way of life? If we let sexism within our own media continue like this, we will make the terrorists' jobs easy. Do not cover up, instead wear whatever you want as a symbol of resistance to terrorism everywhere!
Want to read Harkin's article for yourself? Just click here!