Positively thinking

Media influences how teens see themselves.

Positively+thinking

Tala El Qadah , Senior Reporter

A Tik Tok trend with over 268 million views shows girls tightening corsets while saying the words “no one wants a waist over nine inches” with thousands of comments like “Why am I not built like this” or “I guess I’m not having dinner today” filling the comment section. 

“I have seen social media affect many girls’ mental health and cause them to feel unworthy,” freshman Sam Buscemi said. “I always see posts about how people hate their bodies and how they’re going to stop eating, which can also affect people watching it too.”

Eating orders increased 55%  over the last 50 years in females ages 15 to 24 due to the huge impact social media, such as Snapchat and Instagram, has on teenagers today, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. 

“When I was a teen, the access to online websites that influence eating disorders, such as  Pro-Anorexia, were limited and you had to look for them,” certified dietitian nutritionist Libby Parker said about websites that encourage people to be anorexic or bulimic, “but now teens see this stuff in their newsfeed of every social media channel without searching for it, so it’s been influencing people into unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders.”

 To help girls express their opinions about self-image issues and learn how to build confidence in a safe environment, sophomores Anya Riney-Niewiadomski and Maria Drago created the Body Positivity Club.

“Anya and I will be in the cafeteria and we’ll hear someone say ‘I ate too much yesterday so I can’t eat today’ and we want to bring awareness to this issue and let people know that it’s important to love yourself,” Drago said. “We have noticed that a lot of girls have been struggling with unhealthy eating patterns and bad body-image and we want to give them a place where they can talk about it.”

Club meetings vary with topics like fitness and health, eating disorders, and the effects of social media, according to an email sent by Drago to the school community. 

“We are planning on bringing Campus Health Professional Justine Li to the meeting where she can talk about being healthy but also do it on a personal level,” Riney-Niewiadomski said. “Once done with the presentation, we will allow the group to discuss but we will not force anyone to speak since this is a very delicate topic.”

Juniors Takouhi Asdorian, Elizabeth Mullen and Devon Carlson are also working to help students have a healthier attitude toward their bodies by posting “Mental Health Manatee” flier messages around campus.  The Manatee is used as a way to provide affirmation, inspiration, help and resources around the Convent & Stuart Hall campuses, according to Carlson. 

“We want to address the importance of destigmatizing and discussing self-care for students and we spread messages of positivity to let other students know that we support them with whatever they may be struggling with,” Carlson said. “We combine our creative talents as well as our takeaways from our own experiences with mental illnesses to spread awareness about the prevalence of mental illness amongst teenagers.”

The Mental Health Manatee has made some students feel noticed and appreciated, according to Buscemi. 

“I always see a poster, whether it is in the bathroom or in my classroom, and it really makes me feel better about myself,” Buscemi. “It’s really comforting to know that I have a good support system at school.”

Parker reminds teenage girls that they aren’t constantly around the people they’re comparing themself to so they aren’t getting the full picture of how much those people are eating.

“Comparison makes it so hard to live healthily and freely,” Parker said. “A lot of people will get better about this with age to an extent, but starting young is going to make a huge difference.”

Clubs, posters, and activities bringing up body positivity throughout the school has helped students become more confident in themselves, according to Buscemi.

“I’m glad our school has brought more attention to body image and body positivity,” Buscemi said. “Hopefully everyone knows how important and loved they are.”

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