Friday, January 19, 2007

Teenage Girls Hate Their Bodies

Nudism is about many things, but body acceptance is chief among the philosophies. While nudists believe that taking care of the body is important for good health, and we all agree that an all-over tan looks great, it is equally important to accept the body for what it is. Even though we all know that teenagers today are struggling with body image, it's alarming to read an article like this that spells it out in cold, hard facts.
A 2004 Bliss magazine survey of 2,000 girls gives an indicative, if shocking, insight into young women’s relationship with their bodies today. According to the poll almost every teenage girl hates the way they look. While 19 percent of those questioned were overweight, an astonishing 67 percent thought they were overweight.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is when a person is abnormally preoccupied with an imagined or minor defect in appearance. When we are naked in a social setting, it is immediately evident that no body conforms to the ideal that has been set forth by advertising and media, and it becomes easier to be comfortable in one's own skin.
Worryingly young girls are increasingly looking to more extreme solutions to counter their poor body image - more than a quarter of 14 year olds surveyed said they had considered having plastic surgery. This bodes well for the future of the cosmetic surgery industry, already experiencing significant growth with almost 700,000 cosmetic operations performed in Britain in 2006, at a cost of £539 million. By 2009, market analyst Mintel expects this to top one million, at a cost of almost £1 billion. The British Association of Plastic Surgeons notes that women make up 92 percent of their customers, with breast augmentation, breast reduction, eyelid surgery and facelifts being the most popular operations.
Low self-esteem can lead to depression, eating disorders, and even suicide. The fact that we, as a society, have become isolated within our clothes, our cars and our homes, is damaging to our role on this planet as human animals. We are rapidly becoming anti-human, trying in vain to achieve a physical ideal that exists only in our mind's creation. Plastic lips, cheeks, breasts, buttocks and other parts separate us from our true selves. When the body cannot compete with the image in the brain, the link is broken, and so is the human being.
But the tyranny of unattainable beauty is not all powerful. There are small, hopeful examples of resistance. For example, television programmes like Say No to the Knife and How to Look Good Naked try to solve women’s negative perceptions of their bodies without resorting to cosmetic surgery. Elsewhere Madrid Fashion Week (followed by London and Edinburgh) recently banned models whose bodies fell below the Body Mass Index figure of 18 (a BMI of 18.5 or below is classed as underweight by the World Health Organisation).
The normal, naked human body must become part of the life experience, else we all fall victim to the false commercial images that bombard us each and every day. The human body is beautiful in and of itself, it does not need to be augmented, tucked, nipped and sucked for the sake of massaging self-esteem. True body acceptance cannot be achieved with surgery, it can only come from the inside out. If we can all just set aside the fear of nudity, then we will get back on the right path.

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