I. What I Know
Insecurity is no stranger to the middle school environment; I noticed that girls as young as twelve felt that they needed to hide themselves with make up. This seems to be caused by an unattainable ideal of perfection, an ideal which appears to be enforced by mass media. I have noticed people seek appearance morphing products to hide themselves, and these types of products are filling up the majority of the commercial time on television. I believe there is a terrible correlation between a person's appearance and perceived worth; this is depicted in “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy. This pressure can weigh down on an individual heavily making that person feel trapped, and in desperate need of a solution to help alleviate the pressure. Therefore, the person must strive to fit the mold of what the media and society depicts as perfect. Sometimes this leads to a person physically changing themselves.
As noted above, body image and insecurity seemed to be the theme throughout middle school. I remember hearing girls talking in the 7th grade locker rooms about how they were trying to lose weight. I remember watching a girl eat nothing but an apple for lunch everyday at school. I recall hearing rumors about parents letting their children take weight loss pills so they would fit in. I remember girls who dyed their hair and wore make up in the sixth grade. I also remember that I didn't think anything of it; it just seemed normal. Why did I think this was okay? When and why did girls want to start changing themselves; why did they believe they were not enough?
I read an article about a preteen who got a nose job because her peers would bully her; she was only thirteen. She said she had never been bullied until the second time she broke her nose. This reminded me of the poem “Barbie Doll”- when the main character goes through puberty. I believe when one opts for physical change because of criticism that person is putting duct tape on a breaking dam; it is just a temporary fix. It seems that fixing a flaw somewhat heightens the problem because it is like saying “yes, there was something wrong with me.” This takes me back to the quote “Don't fix what is not broken.” If people do not accept themselves for who they are, they will never stop trying to change themselves. I assume this would lead to depression or suicide just like in “Barbie Doll.”
II. What I Want to Know and Why
I am interested in the effects the mass media has on women's body image such as deciding to
physically change one's self. I am especially interested in the positive effects that conquering
criticism have on an individual as opposed to someone who opted for a quick fix such as cosmetic
surgery. When does body image become a problem for teen and preteen girls? What specifically causes
these girls to believe they need to change? When do preteen and teen girls start to believe it is wrong to
have flaws? Do former teen cosmetic surgery patients face more criticism after...