Body image stress plagues youth

By Jen Mok



Two recent events have caused controversy due to their absurdity and being a rude awakening call. Both events are related to the body-image issue–a common societal struggle faced by both males and females. These particular stories are unique though because they involve children as young as seven years old.

Last year when she turned seven, Poppy Burge received a voucher for a breast implants. This past Christmas she was given another voucher–this one for liposuction. Her mother stated that these vouchers are her way of investing in her young child’s future, as another parent may save for college. Another seven-year-old pressured to “perfect” her physical appearance is Bea Weiss, daughter of Dara-Lynn Weiss, a writer for Vogue magazine. Weiss put her daughter on a strict diet and decided to later publish the story in Vogue.

These two accounts are both upsetting and repulsive as they provide an upsetting truth about our society. Our culture is heavily centered on aesthetics and the power of beauty is significant. Studies have explored the societal advantages of a more “attractive” individual such as higher salary. That being said, it may be understandable then–to a certain degree–why Poppy’s mother views these vouchers as valuable investments. While there may be some rationale to this absurd action, there lacks rationality in a seven-year-old’s body dissatisfaction.

The biggest problems and worries of a child that young should concern wanting to play more, eat more candy or watch more television. Young children should not be concerned with how small their waist, thighs and hips are, or how large their chest is. Such criticisms of the body are reserved for the older generations for a reason. Women are increasingly more aware of their bodies due to issues of dating and fashion. For what reasons should a child be concerned about their size of their clothes or body? Furthermore, a young girl is not in any position to need a thinner body frame other than health concerns. If a child is obese and needs to adopt a healthier lifestyle, a diet is then appropriate. Unless under such circumstances regarding health, a diet is worthless and meaningless to a child. It is especially worthless because the decision to take on a diet plan is usually the result of a parent’s personal beliefs and wishes. A parent can be so disillusioned by these needs and pressures to be fit that they project and enforce such desires upon their children.

I believe that we should not allow the harsh criticisms applied to adults to influence and affect the children. It is not a way to shield the young from the realities of the world, but to allow them to enjoy the joys and more positive aspects of life for as long as they can. 

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