A survey by InSites Consulting has been released concerning how youth view their bodies, and the sad conclusion is that 88 percent of girls ages 15-25 in the United States would change something on their bodies if that was easily feasible. Among boys, 73 percent said the same thing.
Girls are least satisfied with their bellies (46 percent), thighs (29 percent), bottoms (19 percent) and breasts (18 percent). Boys would like to improve their bellies and muscles (18 percent), chests, mouths and cheeks (14 percent).
Girls get the most pride from their eyes. The same is true for boys.
Most – both boys and girls – would not consider plastic surgery, however. Only about 15 percent of those in the survey said they would seriously consider plastic surgery to alter one or more body parts.
It’s probably true that most boys and men would like to look like, say, Brad Pitt. Most girls and women would love to look like, say, Julia Roberts. But, alas, in this imperfect world, not everyone is blessed with such “starry” good looks.
What is sad about the survey is the sheer number of youth dissatisfied with parts of their bodies. That kind of dissatisfaction can cause a loss of confidence, and it is sad that so many young people worry about physical aspects they cannot change.
There’s an upbeat old song by Ray Stevens whose refrain line is “Everybody’s beautiful, in their own way.” And that is true – well, for most people, anyway, except for monsters like Hitler. It is a shame that so many young people apparently do not realize that human truism.
The most likely cause of why youngsters obsess about their “imperfect” bodies is probably our culture, which is based on good looks. TV, magazines, movies, commercials are constantly feeding us messages that happiness and success equals dazzling looks, expensive clothing, the right cologne, even the right suitcase. That razzle-dazzle “good life” is a rather unreal world, virtually unachievable, but we are trained to strive for it by buying products. The proliferation of “miracle diet” plans is enough to show us just how obsessed this mania to achieve bodily perfection can become.
This dissatisfaction, incidentally, is not just an American phenomenon. Very similar numbers have been reported worldwide.
There are also disturbing signs of young people who go out of their way to buy certain brands of consumer goods to appear “special” or “unique.”
The good news is that so many youth value friendship, honesty, warmth and intelligence. And very few youth, almost none, said they crave fame or popularity.
This distorted emphasis on looks in world culture is not going to fade any time soon, unfortunately, not in a world where selling products and consumerism runs so rampant. The only antidote is to help instill confidence in children by emphasizing their qualities of character, their good behavior, their achievements and their efforts, even when they fail. If those values are nurtured within them with love and kindness, they will become confident and happy human beings. Confident people do not worry about how they look.