Through a Seventh Grade Lense

By Lola Brown

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Starting seventh-grade can be really hard, trying to balance new homework with new friends and a new environment.  But as a girl, I think it can be a little harder when images of ourselves on the internet seem to pressure us into trying to stay current and relevant all at the same time.  And sometimes, I think all that pressure may cause us to go a little overboard.

One evening, while consumed by the black hole known as Instagram, something struck me.  With every swipe up, I noticed girl after girl dressed in almost the same type of outfit and looking like exact copies of each other: short shorts and an even shorter shirt, proudly showing off their bare stomachs, and not much older than me.  And although they were from different countries around the world, they all seemed to be influenced by the same thing-- each other, and in trying to outdo each other, they seemed to be competing with themselves, causing me to wonder about the impact of social media on the female body image and ask, are we, as young girls, putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves, creating our own body image rabbit hole or is all the pressure coming from outside of us? Or, is there no pressure at all, and some of us just like the way it looks?

I decided I was thinking about this too hard, and so I asked a few of my seventh-grade peers to think about it instead.

“How do you feel about body image and the pressures of the internet?” I asked.  

They all had very different answers.  For instance, one 7th grade girl said,  “I think the girls on social media are trying to be cool, trendy, pretty, and sexy and I don’t feel the need to try to keep up with them all.  I just look at them and think it’s just a waste of time and energy.”

And, while discussing the issue with one of the boys, he shared a story about the time he was taking a picture of his sister, “... she got almost fully undressed..” he said, “... in a swimsuit, I didn’t know why she was trying to make herself look one of those Instagram girls, but then I found out the boys were actually pressuring her because they had been calling her flat [chested].”  

Another one of the seventh-grade girls told me, “I don’t feel the need to keep up with them, but it definitely does create false stereotypes and things that other girls might want to live up to.”

After taking all the thoughts I collected and putting them together, what I came away with is this: Girls definitely have a lot on their brains to keep their mind’s racing, whether it’s the need to feel relevant by competing with themselves and each other showing off their bodies on social media, or taking the opposite position and refusing to define who they are by what they wear.  And although I feel as though I still don’t have a definitive answer to my question, what I did learn for sure was that, no matter how you feel about it the issue of how we feel about our bodies and what influences us, it certainly keeps us thinking about it a whole lot. So, with that, I guess until we come up with an answer may be the best answer is just to wear what makes you feel good and gives you the most confidence-- and also, to keep trying to find a balance for the struggle we, as 7th graders, called Middle School.

Until next time...