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#CombattheSilenceJH: Claire Herzog thinks Imperfection is Beautiful

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Jackson Hole Middle School student Claire Herzog thinks you are beautiful just the way you are... and wants you to think you are beautiful, too. To help instill confidence in other young girls, she is doing a photoshoot of 20 local girls of all different shapes and sizes with no Photoshopping. Learn more in her essay below. Learn about the local students who #CombattheSilenceJH here. *Imperfection is Beautiful by Claire Herzog* Brandy Melville, the store that everyone loves, the store that all the “pretty girls” shop at, going there is almost like a key to getting in the “cool side”. Well last summer I finally visited the store that everyone loves, the store that all the “pretty girls” shop at. I was so excited, I rushed in grabbed an unusually large amount of things that made my arms feel like they were about to overflowing. This store’s clothes are soft, pretty and comfortable, however they come in a ONE SIZE FITS ALL. As I'm in the dressing room trying everything on, I notice the shirts are too tight, and the skirts and dresses are too short. I felt too tall, too fat, too flawed. Am I not part of the ONE SIZE FITS ALL? These companies are lying to our faces because I am ALL, yet ONE SIZE FITS ALL doesn't fit me. On a scale from 1-10 my self esteem and confidence went from an already low 5 to a 3. I was hanging on by a thread to survive in this cruel, pressure filled world. The extremely popular, California based clothing store is an outlet where the downhill slope of confidence starts. Sadly I’m only 1 out of 70% of teens who are being affected by the media setting standards of what we need to look like. My story is just one example of the many places where girls get these standards and ideas of what it's like to be beautiful. Unrealistic body image caused by the media is a huge problem in our society today, especially when it comes to teens, and we can solve this by simply spreading awareness that the models are fake, the bodies we see aren’t real, and that there is no such thing as being “perfect”. *You are Not Alone* If you have ever felt this, know you’re only a fraction of girls who feel like this. Girls and women are having to live up to these standards that the media has set for them in order to be considered beautiful or even normal. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It encompasses” (NEDA). If you have a positive body image you would look in the mirror and say “I’m pretty” or “I look good” this is the effect of an uplifting society. Negative body image is the exact opposite and according to the National Eating Disorder Association this is what a negative body image is, “A distorted perception of your shape--you perceive parts of your body unlike they really are” (NEDA). Sadly this is the world we live in, all because of one picture of a photoshopped model you all of a sudden start to see yourself in a way that is unfamiliar and negative. This issue has many different causes, but the media is definitely the largest contributor. Therefore they needs to stop “perfecting” models or at least spread awareness of the issue at hand, that most things we see are engineered for perfection. The media is causing us to have a mindset where being flawed is terrible, where being flawed is even embarrassing and unacceptable. We are being sold the idea that our flaws must be revised, rebuilt and replaced through expensive surgeries, diet plans, workouts, etc. If we were to stop the media from setting these unrealistic standards, then things would improve drastically. A study even proves that, According to the beauty company Dove, “A recent study conducted by Florida State University and published by the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that a group of women, who were asked to browse Facebook for 20 minutes, experienced greater body dissatisfaction than those who spent 20 minutes online, researching rainforest cats” (Dove). As told by the study even 20 minutes looking at Facebook can do so much damage to a women's body image. This is because we see the pictures of the models and go directly to thinking we have to be like that, we should look just like them. If we are not mirror images of these models, then we are not pretty. Being a young girl going into a store to buy a first bra is kind of scary, so imagine seeing the pictures of models wearing large lacey and scandalous bras at such a young age. You obviously would feel uncomfortable because young girls don’t have the large breast of a full grown women at that age. One young girl decided to change this by starting a bra company that was appropriate for teen girls, so that they felt comfortable in their own skin when shopping. According to owner of Yellowberry, Megan Grassell “It’s unfair to portray women and girls in a way that makes them out to be upon a pedestal, when in fact we’re only human! It’s unfair that then that becomes what is “normal” and perhaps what girls should aspire to be and aspire to look like. That is exhausting!” (Megan Grassell). Megan is completely right trying to be perfect and caring what other people think is a lot to for one young person, this can lead us to make choices that are so weird and even sometimes dangerous. Standards set by the world of beauty is the largest cause of the low self esteem in people, and it needs to stop now before something even worse happens. *The Dangers of Photoshop* This issue is something worth knowing about because it can change the way people think and start to change their thoughts negatively. When people's minds start to wander off into their insecurities their heads can become clouded and cause them to make actions such as: - Eating Disorders - Alcohol Use - Drug Use - Cutting - Bullying - Sexual Addictions These are all dangerous affects of becoming insecure and while only some people are affected this dramatically that is still too many. We need to keep fighting to stop this issue until nobody feels the need to harm themselves because of the media causing insecurity. As said by the Self Image/Media Influence Program Just Say Yes “Their mental perception of what they look like can become distorted, leading them to engage in risk behaviors when they feel they don’t measure up to the impossible goal set in front of them” (Just Say Yes). These are the scary effects of seeing a couple photoshopped pictures. Is it really worth it to make everyone else feel bad just to make money or to make a model a little bit thinner and a little bit “prettier”? My hope right now is that you not only feel more confident about yourself, but that you are ready to stand up and help other girls feel the same way. While there are many possible solutions to this issue, the most effective solution will be spreading awareness. This will show the media that everyone knows their dirty little secrets and that we will no longer support them in their selfish acts. This can start by introducing the issue and Michael Graupmann from the Huffington Post agrees “Perhaps it is time for a refresher course for the media and Americans of what Photoshop was created for originally: bringing a subject more into focus, not creating works of fiction” (Michael Graupmann Huffington Post). As Graupmann states, photoshop was not made for “creating works of fiction” so then why are we using it for just that. Photoshop has caused people of all ages and gender to feel terrible about themselves which leads into even larger issues. This is growing into something larger than just one girl saying she isn't pretty, it's grown into an issue that has changed our society, that has killed people, that has made people so depressed and upset that it makes them seem crazy. A foundation that is helping people notice their inner beauty is BeautyRedifined, its a company started by 2 girls who at the age of 6 felt uncomfortable with their bodies. They are now 30 and determined to eliminate the issue by introducing themselves and their stories to the world, “We are Lexie and Lindsay Kite, PhD, identical twins and co-directors of Beauty Redefined, a nonprofit working to help girls and women improve their body image and self-worth as they wade through harmful cultural ideals”(Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite). We need women in the world like this to stop the issue and to stand up and say something. I'm not saying we need to shut down the media but I am saying that they need to stop retouching. It won’t be as easy as just saying “stop” but I dont believe its impossible either. Start small by spreading awareness, signing petitions, emailing companies and telling them exactly why they need to discontinue their photoshopping habits. I believe that one day this issue will be non-existent all because of a couple people standing up for themselves and others. *Do Something * Instead of reading this and then picking up your phone and ignoring the real issue, I suggest you do something, this can be something as little as telling someone they are beautiful and why. You're probably thinking that none of that is going to help unless someone older, more responsible and probably even a little bit more wealthier addresses the issue but you’re wrong. Unrealistic body image caused by the media is a huge problem in our society today, especially when it comes to teens, and we can solve this by simply spreading awareness because that will hopefully lead to girls becoming more confident causing the companies to notice that they can’t photoshop anymore because they are wasting time and money on a technique that simply has no effect anymore. A great company to donate to is Beauty Redefined and they are doing just that redefining beauty into something that's not perfect, but something that is just you being you. This has inspired me to start a project that will help girls feel more confident. The plan is to share photos of untouched girls of all different shapes and sizes. I’m having a photoshoot with about 20 girls showing them having fun and loving their own bodies. I plan to share these photos on a social media account and hope that it will flourish so we can expand into something even bigger. Another way I am trying to spread awareness is by working at Yellowberry 3 times a week. This is allowing me to be in an environment full of women who are determined and have the same mission as me, to stop young girls from having low self esteem. I feel this quote by Malala Yousafzai captures our whole mission and how we plan to do it, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful”(Malala Yousafzai). If one voice is so empowering imagine what thousands of voices would do. Imagine a world without insecurities or doubt. Imagine being apart of a revolution to stop the media causing these self-defeating insecurities. Donate to BeautyRedifined and follow our Instagram @beautifulyoucompanies. Let's start to change our society one small voice at a time. *Works Cited * Grassell, Megan. E-mail interview. 2 May 2016. “The Impact of Social Media and Body Image: Does Social Networking Actually Trigger Body Obsession in Today’s Teenage Girls?” Dove Self-Esteem Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016. < http://selfesteem.dove.us/Articles/Written/social-media-and-body-image.aspx >. “Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?” Huffington Post Healthy Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016. < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/photoshop-body-image_b_891095.html >. “Self Image/Media Influences.” Just Say Yes. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016. < https://www.justsayyes.org/topics/self-image-media-influences/>. “What Is Body Image?” NEDA. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2016. < https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/what-body-image>. *Feature Photo: Claire Herzog / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news