How Media Effects “ME” as a Teenager….
by Katelynn Tran
Media plays a big role in the generational gap between teenagers and their parents. This advancement in technology is undeniably useful and beneficial at times, but it is also the stem of many problems that young teens face today.
As a teenager, I often find myself struggling to fulfill the standards that have been set by the media today. It dictates many aspects of my life, such as what I should wear, what I should eat, what I should do. I look through Instagram and other social networking applications every day, double tapping and commenting generic stuff on generic posts, as if it is part of my daily schedule. I find myself wanting to look like the other girls on Instagram who everyone just adores. The standard of beauty is a byproduct of media. It spreads the misconception that there is an acceptable look a girl should portray.
Parents do not understand that impulsion. They baffle at our need to fit in. My parents often ask, “Why are you making life out to be harder than it actually is? You have one job – to do well in school. You don’t need to look good for other people. You just need to look good for yourself. Who cares if every girl in school has bleached hair, acrylics, and a vape pen? You’ll ruin your hair, you’ll ruin your nails, and you’ll ruin your life. These people you so dearly look up to will become nobodies in the future, and you won’t even remember their names. So why are you trying so hard to be like them?”
Their logic makes perfect sense. It is, without a doubt, reasonable and correct, but our parents can’t speak from personal experience. When they were in high school, social media hadn’t even existed yet. They do not understand the pressures of fulfilling beauty standards and succumbing to peer pressure. People often say online that “different is beautiful,” yet that’s hard to believe when so many teens suffer from body image.
I went through a tough time once, and it lead me to gain a lot of weight. Prior to gaining weight, I was 90 pounds, but I gained 25 pounds in a matter of two months. I became more self-conscious, as more and more people were commenting on my weight gain. I didn’t have the same confidence as my friends on my feed, and it put me in a bad place. My parents told me to exercise if I wasn’t content with my body, but I didn’t want to exercise. I didn’t want to do anything. They were frustrated, because it seemed like I wasn’t making an effort to solve my own problems. I was frustrated at myself too.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian were posting pictures with limited clothing, and I wanted to feel that same confidence as well. I started skipping meals and acting out, blatantly endangering my health. After a while, I was able to lose the weight that I had gained, but I was never fully content with how I looked. I had already lost so much confidence, and I was still insecure.
With all the beauty standards and judgment out there, I think the most important thing is to have people who will love you unconditionally. It seems like “learning to love yourself” is the moral of the story, but it’s a lot harder said than done. It’s easy to tell people who are struggling from body image issues that they’re beautiful, but it’s hard to get them to acknowledge that as the truth. The first step in that direction is having support from the people they know and love.