No One is Perfect, the Stars Admit: Teen Mental Health and Weight Stigma
Weight stigma can be cruel. It can make teens and adolescents feel ashamed of their bodies. It can interfere with their ability to enjoy school and social events. Weight stigma can also lead teens to develop binge eating disorder (BED) and other eating disorders. After being bullied, teased, or ridiculed with harsh language, it’s all too easy to internalize negative messages, and even agree with them. As BEDA’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week wraps up, interviews with celebrities reveal that all young women feel the pressure to look a certain way. Many top stars in music, fashion, films and television have also struggled with notions of perfection, and they want young people to know that recovery is possible.
Born That Way
You may not recognize the name, but the face is probably very familiar. Therés Amee has become a prominent figure in the fashion industry. As a mid-size, or “In-Betweener” model, she is gaining ground on the world’s most famous runways, and giving hope to ordinary women everywhere. Amee recently told HUSH magazine that she feels the fashion industry is slowly adapting to the concept of “Beauty Beyond Size.”
“Each fashion week we notice more and more diversity not only in race, but also in body type,” she said. “However, society needs to understand and accept the inevitability of genetics. Honestly, that’s what it comes down to. Yes, of course, practice a healthy lifestyle and respect your body, but the Victoria Secret Angels were born that way.”
Amee says she knows that she will never look like one of those Victoria Secret models, and that’s OK. But the competition within her industry is fierce against the tiny people that populate it: “Them, and numerous other naturally petite/slim humans, typically with a fast metabolism and small boned anatomy. Now enhance that with a strict diet, trainers, glam squad, some further enhancements and congratulations, you’ve earned your wings. But certain women can go through the exact same process- and never look like that. Why? Because of their damn genetics!
Hips Don’t Lie
Shakira says she needed therapy to help her learn to love her body. The international pop star said she went through hundreds of hours of counseling to overcome her body issues. Despite the fact that she is one of the highest earning female recording artists of all time, with teenaged fans all over the world, Shakira admits that she was often unhappy with her body. “I wished I was taller, had longer legs, slimmer hips, a smaller bottom, even straighter hair. I am just like all women – we’re born to criticize ourselves,” she told the UK Telegraph. “Therapy has helped me so much in every aspect of my life from body image to relationships. It’s about understanding myself – sometimes I’ll speak to my therapist for an hour a day, it has become my routine.
The star continues to train hard with celebrity fitness guru Tracy Anderson, who has worked with Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. But not to the point of obsession. “I haven’t been on the scales for a year,” Shakira told the Telegraph. “I’ve become so much more comfortable with who I am, and the body God has given me.”
Taking Back the Power to Define Beauty
Other celebrities are speaking out, telling young girls that they should try only to be themselves and love who they are. Singer and actress Demi Lovato has received much positive recognition for sharing her struggles with body image and eating disorders. In 2013, she was cited for her dedication as a mentor to teens and young adults with mental health challenges at a National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington, D.C. Lovado now admits that as a child she compulsively over-ate, then starved herself after being called ‘fat’ at school by bullies. She says the pressure for perfection contributed to her eating disorder. But these days, she feels the most beautiful when she relaxes without makeup.
To prove to her teenaged fans that she is not perfect, pop star Lorde recently rebelled by posting unflattering unphotoshopped selfies to show her millions of fans on Twitter that “flaws are ok.” Taylor Swift has also admitted to wrestling with negative body image issues. Swift said that reading the confessions of other people who also felt inadequate helped her to understand that everyone can feel negative about themselves at times, and that learning to love herself just as she was would be the best long term solution.
Real Women Have Curves
Jennifer Lawrence, the action star of the Hunger Games movies, has become an inspiration for adolescents, teens, and women that think fame means being thin and not eating well. Lawrence has publicly stated that she will never starve her body for a part in a movie. After Glamour called her friend Amy Schumer a ‘plus-sized’ actress, Lawrence told Harper’s Bazaar, “I would like us to make a new normal-body type. I think we’ve gotten so used to underweight that when you are a normal weight it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, she’s curvy.’ Which is crazy.”
Real Men and Women Like Real Women
Long recognized as one of the ultimate symbols of female beauty, Marilyn Monroe would not be comfortable with thin standards either. Yet the iconic movie star still has the power to turn heads. The scandalous dress Monroe wore in the film, Some Like It Hot, was so form fitting that it had to be sewn onto her, and it revealed all of her curves, all of her pounds. Photos of Marilyn working out with weights in her home gym demonstrate the star’s understanding of her huge box office appeal. She exercised to keep herself larger, not smaller.
When some of Monroe’s personal, every day outfits were displayed in a museum not long ago, many fans were shocked to discover she was a size 12. Today’s sizes are different, designers explain. This means that Marilyn would likely take a size 8 in today’s stores, they say. But model Therés Amee wears a size 8, and she is still somewhat controversial in the stick thin world of high fashion.
BEDA’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week urges people everywhere, of all genders, and all ages, to take back the power to define beauty. As Therés Amee says, this will mean knocking down barriers. “Showcasing a wider range in body type and look is the only way the masses will feel a relate-able, more accepting image of beauty,” Amee says. “But first we have to love and accept our own.” As BEDA, the Binge Eating Disorder Association, declares, winning the war against weight stigma will allow us to see beauty everywhere. Even in ourselves.
Recovery From Weight Stigma Requires Resilience
If someone you love is battling the shame of weight stigma, they may also be struggling with the symptoms of depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or some other behavior disorder. Resilience Teen Mental Health Treatment can help! We know that mental health for teens comes in all sizes. Our personalized behavior modification programs are tailored to fit your needs.
Call Now at 866.482.3876
Resilience Teen Mental Health Treatment provides multi-faceted levels of care that range from residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, to partial hospitalization for adolescents and teens with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, self-harm behaviors, gender identity, oppositional defiant disorder, eating disorders, and other major mental health disorders. Call 866-850-4559 today and speak with one of our highly trained admission specialists. All calls are completely FREE and completely confidential.
BEDA: Weight Stigma Awareness Week. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
HUSH magazine: In Her Room – International Model There’s Amee, by Justin Voitic. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
Mirror-mirror.org: Celebrities That Promote a Healthy Body Image, by Amy Pershing, LCSW, ACSW. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
The Telegraph- Shakira: I Needed Therapy to Help me Love my Body. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
NY Daily News: Jennifer Lawrence talks body image, wants to redefine ‘normal,’ by Peter Sblendorio. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
Binge Eating Disorder Association: Characteristics of BED. Retrieved September 26, 2016.