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Battling Ourselves: Black Women and Self-Image

By Shanette D. Buford-Brazzell

In today’s society all women deal with trying to look great as far as their physical appearance. The media is one of the biggest influences when it comes to stereotypes and the portrayal of certain behaviors. W hen it comes to African-American women, self-image is one of the biggest issues they face on a personal level. According to a recent survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more African-American women are heavier than white women. Even though they’re heavier weight wise than their white women counterparts, they have higher self-esteem levels.

The issue of self-image and self-esteem has been a huge problem for women because of the media’s input on how women should look on a daily basis. Low self-esteem issues occur in women of all ages. The racial and ethnic group that is affected the most when it comes to low self-esteem is young African-American women. Low confidence, weight, and size are the top three body and self-image issues women face on a daily basis. All of the different images that are depicted in music videos, advertisements in magazines and commercials, women in reality television shows and perfect fit celebrities affect the way that black women view themselves.

Looking at the concept of self-images and self-esteem, I remember dealing with this myself as a teenager. Growing up in elementary school, I was always the tallest female in my class until I stopped growing height-wise in the 9th grade. Low self-esteem was a problem for me because I was a slim female, with big feet and long hair. I use to think that I was different from my peers because of my size and I thought and felt weird. While I was in high school my self-esteem got worse. I went to a diverse school and was challenged by the multitude of body images; all the girls looked different from each other, but i being “skinny” was the bonding force between women when it came to the way you looked. I felt like I was in a reality television show.

I dealt with self-esteem by writing down my feelings and sometimes talking about the way I felt. Now at the age of 24, I understand that sometimes African-American women are held at certain scrutiny level for their self-esteem and body images because of the stereotypes and portrayals in the media. Not all women can look like Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, or any other famous celebrity. We all were created to be different in our own way, we just have to continue to motivate and uplift one another.

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