Eva Carlston Academy
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Navigating Body Image and Self Esteem

The definition of body image in today’s society has become skewed to the point where it can be seen as unattainable. With the help of social media, news outlets, and influencers, it’s impossible to get a sound idea of what beauty is and healthy habits. Oftentimes harmful images of what the “ideal” body is can lead to eating disorders, unhealthy diet practices, mental illnesses, and much more. Currently, at Eva Carlston, to combat the distasteful messages and unrealistic societal expectations, we have created a safe space to learn about building a relationship with yourself and breaking down barriers.

How Body Image Impacts Society

Here at Eva Carlston, we believe that to change what society believes, we must first start with challenging our own negative core beliefs and judgments about our bodies. Learning and understanding self-love is essential in undoing the harmful programming that has been expected from all. Since a young age, teenagers have been exposed to social media which has led them to look at influencers, celebrities, and models and compare themselves to how those people look. Fashionable clothing, new jewelry, flat stomachs, perfect nose, whatever it may be, this is what the media has outlined as the beauty standard.

Although it may not always be social media. Family members, friends, and peers can say off-handed remarks about a new haircut, small weight gain, or a change of style. Hearing comments like “You’re too skinny!” “Why are you getting another plate?” “What’s with the boy clothes?” These are things no one wants to hear. It starts to reinforce this idea that people must look a certain way to achieve beauty when in reality we are all beautiful in our way and uniqueness. 

In our Body Image and Positivity group, we work hard to teach our students what harmful body image is and that their self-worth is held within. Often, our students who are gender non-confirming or nonbinary struggle with how their body appears versus how they feel. We often discuss the impact family members, social media, and peers have on our self-worth and understand that the beauty standards laid out by others are not our reality. 

Diet Culture

Understanding diet culture and what it can help us learn the harmful ways it can sneak into our lives. Diet culture holds ultimate value in thinness, appearances, and shape above health and wellbeing. This places importance on restricting calorie intake, labels “good” foods, and “bad” foods. In this toxic mindset, it begins to normalize negative self-talk which in turn, leads to body image issues and plummets self-esteem. We believe that educating our students on the difference between healthy dieting and unhealthy dieting is important. 

By placing an overwhelming sense of importance on calories, different food types, and dieting, it can lead teenagers to build an unhealthy relationship with food. It fuels body discrimination and instills the untrue belief that eating certain foods and your weight creates your value. 

“Everyone has their own interpretation of what is beautiful and that doesn’t often take into account different body types, genetics, etc. That it is impossible to please and meet everyone else’s expectations so you need to focus on your own individual relationship with your body and learn to respect and appreciate your body and what it does for you.”

Sydney Haga, LCSW

Eva Carlston Academy always puts the health and wellness of our students above anything else. We created this group to help the rising problem in today’s society. Unfair standards placed on men, women, and nonconforming genders of all ages should be stopped. Our students learn about mindfulness and self-compassion to prepare them for when they return to the outside world after their time here with us. 

2 comments

  1. Janet says:

    As a woman and a mother this was helpful to me too. I had never really thought about “good foods” vs “bad foods” being unhelpful. I know I’ve chastised myself for eating “bad.”

    1. Eva Carlston says:

      Thanks for sharing Janet. We don’t think you are alone!

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