We live in a society surrounded by images of female bodies used to sell everything from fast food to cars. With all these images surrounding us teen girls, imposing standards of beauty, there is reason for concern.
According to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough in some way, one of every four college-age women has used unhealthy methods of weight control, and 35 percent of girls ages 6 to 12 have been on at least one diet.
The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar venture that thrives on women and their insecurities. The makers of beauty products try to prevent things that do and should happen naturally. Anti-aging products, for instance, are huge but we are all going to get wrinkles - we cannot stay 20 forever. Yet this is not the message the beauty industry sends; it tries to make you believe you are just a drugstore trip away from the perfect body and the perfect life.
This seemingly unattainable image of women extends to "Barbie doll proportions." Researchers generated a computer model of Barbie's image and found that her back would not be able to hold the weight of her upper body. They also found that her waist would be too narrow to contain more than half of her liver and other vital organs. Real women with these proportions would have serious health problems and eventually die of malnutrition.
Beauty is not something that can be defined. Yes, you can look it up in the dictionary and there will be a definition; however, it all goes back to the age-old saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Therefore, what one person sees beauty in, another person may not. So even if you take extreme measures to become what you think is perfect, someone will disagree and you might just be on the road to becoming one of the thousands of women with eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder.
It is so simple to be molded these days into what is considered beautiful. In a world where everyone can become artificial so easily, and we are so obsessed with what we want to be, it's easy to forget who we really are. Your looks are always changing and it's not something you can preserve. Even if you get plastic surgery, with time, that will eventually wear off and change too. Our personality, however, is totally our own. It only changes if we let it. It is one of the most unique things about us; no one else will ever have the exact same personality.
Have you ever noticed that artificial things are the least attractive? They have no soul, no personality and no ability to love. So why are we all trying so hard to be artificial?
Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with wearing makeup or exercising and trying to live a healthier lifestyle. The beauty industry has some great positives to it. What I do have a problem with is the unrealistic, unattainable image that it puts in the minds of girls as young as age 6. The bottom line is I feel that this industry not only needs to focus on outer beauty but inner beauty as well because without inner beauty, outer beauty cannot exist.
Remember who you are; you're an individual with a personality that no one can copy. Don't be afraid to step outside the small perimeter of what is considered beautiful. And on your pursuit of what you consider beautiful don't forget to ask yourself: "Is this self-improvement or self-destruction?"
Caitlynn Kindall is a sophomore at Ogden High School. She enjoys softball, debate and being outdoors. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.