Self Image by Natalja Gontrum

Self-image, the idea one has of one’s abilities, appearance, and
personality, is a relatively simple noun which impacts almost every single
part of a person’s day and life. Although self-positivity has become
increasingly mainstream and highlighted by topics such as the feminist
movement, teenagers, especially girls, are notorious for being
self-conscious. 20 girls at Nease of differing backgrounds participated in
a survey about self-perception and their responses are integrated within
the rest of the paragraphs.

In an age of social media, it has become a societal paradox of the
narcissism affiliated with taking selfies and posting about what is for
dinner, meanwhile scrolling through Twitter and wishing one could look like
that other “perfect” girl. Social media can either boost confidence or be
detrimental to it. “I know if I posted a selfie and it got slim to none
‘likes’ I literally feel like the ugliest person.” On the other hand,
another girl remarks that “posting pictures that I think look good and then
having other people think the same is validating, and I feel like there is
nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t determine your worth based off
of likes.” Ultimately, likes and comments greatly impact how teens view
what they post, seeking the approval of other peers.

“Social media does affect you because you have the power to see all of the
beautiful, skinny, edited models and famous stars and it makes you wish you
looked like them or think if you did you could be famous too,” says one
participant. Besides just social media: magazines, television and more
never cease to be studded with women that seem to be of unattainable
proportions and possess near-perfect facial features. While it is old news
that these celebrities are often lathered with make-up or highly edited, it
is natural for developing bodies and minds to compare themselves to the
images they are so often exposed to. Sometimes though – the exposure can be
positive. As representation of more ethnicities, races and body types
becomes more common. “Seeing photos of models, especially when they have
the same features as I do, inspires me to be proud of who I am”, comments a
student. Recent years have been pretty amazing for reaching out to
different groups of women. In 2016, Ashely Graham became the first plus
sized model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Edition, showcasing that any healthy size is beautiful. Furthermore, Aerie,
a women’s apparel brand, began a campaign encouraging girls to get #REAL,
using Photoshop-free advertisements.

In an ever-changing and developing world, the topic of feminism in recent
years has greatly shaped how many young girls view themselves, as well. Although
feminism is still controversial in 2017, it is a fact that the attitudes of
many adolescents has been sculpted by this so-called “third wave” of
feminism. “It is a very interesting time to be a young feminist in 2017,”
says one participant, “We are breaking barriers that people didn’t even
know existed. When the topic of feminism is brought up and people get
uncomfortable is how you know it should be addressed, people wouldn’t be
uncomfortable if something wasn’t wrong.” So how can feminism contribute to
a young adult’s self-perception? “I believe that the feminist movement has
helped many women feel more comfortable with themselves,” states another
girl, “For example, women are pressured to remove or bleach body hair, but
these are things are just born with. I believe the movement has allowed
women to think more openly, knowing that is truly their choice what they do
with their bodies.”

One of the most remarkable components of the survey, is when girls where
asked “Do any of your friends or peers make you feel uncomfortable beauty
wise?”, almost all said their friend’s beauty was incredible and could even
be intimidating, but everyone said their friends never purposely make them
feel uncomfortable or bring them down. As I questioned these girls, I found
many of them were very passionate about the topic before them. The stigma
behind young females being one of the two extremes, either self-obsessed or
self-conscious, should be erased as more opportunities, socially,
professionally, and more have become open to more women in recent years.
While the battle for equal representation, pay and more is still an uphill
battle, the route of women fighting for this begins within their own

While it is natural for young adults with developing minds and bodies to
doubt themselves, the move towards body positivity and better self-image
has become widespread.