Whether at schools, doctor’s offices, at home, or in various forms of media, children receive a constant influx of information about how they should think, look, and act. There is a major issue in the lack of body inclusivity in the images and expectations of young people. Without positive and inclusive conversations, children are left to analyze their bodies and to compare their appearances to unrealistic standards, resulting in harmful health implications which can include depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and gender dysphoria. Although there have been recent efforts to increase body acceptance through more diverse body representations in media by social influencers, there are still many fronts for improvement in education and public health among others. This research project investigates the primary areas that children and adolescents are exposed to negative physical expectations and the severe consequences that they impose. The research focuses mainly on institutionalized weight stigma and disordered norms that perform American thinness ideals within society. Medicine, education, media, government policy, and interpersonal relationships are all wrought with impossible ideas of what it means to be healthy, beautiful, and successful in today’s world. Evidence from studies of pediatric and adolescent body dysmorphia, eating disorders, diminished self-image supports that normalized fatphobia has sent the young population into a mental health crisis that needs to be addressed. In addition to the issues caused by lack of diverse representation, research also supports a reason to hope for positive change. Doctors, influencers, and educators are making an increased effort to share more inclusive messages relating to size, self-acceptance, and challenging social conventions.
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