With this new decade, we find ourselves almost in a new world. With the ever-changing media and the speech regarding empowerment vastly changing, we find new words being added into our everyday vocabulary. Words like body positivity, cancel culture, influencer, were all things that were not being thought of ten to fifteen years ago. Back then girls would often look at a cover of a magazine and think, “, this is what I must look like to be accepted by society.” But we are making changes so young women do not think they have to fit into an unobtainable mold. But while we strive for change and trying to make a difference they are still blasted by adds for waist trainers and liquid diets, telling them that this will make you skinny in only ten days. Which is why we have to continue to push on.
Women around the world are pushing for a change, trying to get girls and young women to understand that it is ok to love your body and the skin that they are in, while still making sure that if they want to make a healthy change they shouldn’t be condemned for it. Ladies like Ashely Graham has become one of the top body influencers in the modeling industry. After just having a baby she wants both girls and women that there is not always a glamorous side to models and like everyone else they are human too. She uses her status and platform to showcase confidence and that it is ok to not be put together 100% of the time.
Another model making waves in this new world of body positivity is Simone Biles, she illustrates that young girls can be both valuable and strong even when tiny. Biles, an Olympic athlete has been working to educate young women that they should never compete for body standards. In a Shape magazine interview, she shares an Instagram post where she discusses that the competition does not lie with just gymnastics, but with beauty standards. She has been body-shamed for being athletic with statements about how she looks in dresses and bathing suits. Biles goes on to say that she is done competing with the beauty standards and the toxic trolling culture and advises girls and women that no one should be able to tell you what beauty looks like.
Most girls strive to be the Instagram influencers that they see today, with trying to live up to body standards. With some of the most toxic people being the ones we see on our feeds and daily. They broadcast themselves heavily face tuned with every skin flaw and imperfection blurred away with a single swipe of their finger. Creating a veil between what is real and what is an illusion. There isn’t a single influencer that doesn’t scroll through their feed and has some kind of negativity. It is their main source of feeling like they need to be perfect. We have to stop trying to make women fit into unrealistic expectations. Often these girls and women that hear these negative comments will go on to have some kind of eating disorder because they feel that it’s the only way to be “good enough”.
We have to start uplifting the young girls around us so they understand that it is ok to be different. It is ok to feel good in the skin that they were given. With the recent movement of “body positivity,” we are seeing women everywhere empowered to be happy in the skin that they are in. We must empower them to be strong individuals and that the words of others are words that only have power if you let them. With this empowerment we can only hope to see change, to see a dark negative world start to go into the light, and make the future a little bit brighter.
Dr. Catherine Barnes is a Jacksonville, Florida-based educator with over 25 years of experience. A graduate of the University of Florida, Dr. Barnes forms her educational philosophy around the belief that “kids deserve a fighting chance—even if you have to fight to give it to them.” She understands that, by adapting to modern students’ needs, today’s teachers can change the trajectory of a child’s life, and has allowed her to continuously embody success and vision in her field.