Bears’ Beat Report: Body Image

Anisah Muhammad


Amyre Makupson

Hi, I’m Anisah Muhammad. Welcome to another taste of real students on real issues.

I told my father, I’m doing a piece on body image, and he asked me, “What’s that?” His question made me realize that this generation has new terminology on issues that have been around for awhile. Body image, according to Google, is simply “the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body.”

According to the American Counseling Associationbody dissatisfaction is associated with excessive dieting, disordered eating, increased depression and low self-esteem.

I took a trip home and decided to have the “body image” conversation with my sister, Aliyyah Muhammad, a 19-year-old nursing student attending Southwest Community College in Memphis, Tennessee.

She confided that people would tell her she was too skinny.

“I would force myself to eat more, thinking that I would gain weight. But it was days like, I wouldn’t eat as much, so I still felt like I was too skinny. And every time people would tell me, ‘Oh, you too skinny, I would try to mask my emotions, but inside it just made me feel like I wasn’t good enough”, says Muhammad.

Many people don’t take into account that people who are skinny have body image issues, too. Skinny-shaming is certainly problematic, but perhaps one of the most well-known issues surrounding the idea of body image is fat-shaming, something that Muhammad finds childish.

“I don’t understand why people feel the need to put down others because of their body size. It’s like, yes, everybody comes in different sizes and shapes. That’s no reason to put somebody down and make them feel worthless”, says Muhammad.

Issues with body image can result in eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. It is imperative that societal notions related to body image change and that standards of beauty expand. Muhammad says students can fight a negative body image by simply loving themselves.

“Your size does not measure your beauty or your worth. You’re perfect”, she says. “Everyday you look in the mirror, try to tell yourself,’I’m amazing. I’m beautiful. I’m me.’ Keep that energy going throughout the day.”

We have to do better as human beings to accept one another. Body image is controlled by self-perception, but when beauty outside of the norm is not accepted, society’s perceptions begin to mold self-perception. Reversing negative stereotypes related to body image starts with the individual.