Writing by Nina Diaz // Photograph by Chantal van den Broek

2Being a young lady has never been easy, and today’s constant obsession with how we should look doesn’t make it any easier.

Our world is so obsessed with what we look like, it’s almost as if magazines, celebrities, and our society’s opinion has full control over our image. This way of life has such a negative impact on young girls and is resulting in irreversible damage. Young girls have this idea cemented in their brain that they have to look and be a certain way and to be anything else isn’t socially acceptable.

Young girls are going to extreme measures just to satisfy others. Whatever happened to satisfying ourselves and being content with who we are? We can tell ourselves that it shouldn’t matter what other people think, but a sickening fact is that today’s world, as it is, revolves around first impressions.

Currently being a 16 year old girl gives me first hand insight on what it can be like growing up in this image-obsessed world. It’s an incredibly difficult world out there for young girls that are maturing and trying to discover who they are. I often wonder, how are we supposed to know who we are, when all we are told is whom we should be?

I happen to be a very competitive dancer. Dancing seems to be one aspect of life that has very specific requirements, all to do with what we look like. Many people think that to be a successful dancer, you need to be tall, but not too tall, skinny yet very strong, and flexible, but not too flexible.

In the dance world, you are sometimes told “yes” or “no” before you even get the chance to perform. What is this doing to that huge percentage of girls that don’t fulfill the requirements? It’s a given that by entering the performance industry, you need to be strong enough to deal with rejection. However, no one will ever be okay with being rejected on the basis of being just a little too chubby or having a face that isn’t quite as pretty as the judges had hoped for, when they haven’t even see what you’re capable of.

It’s the same in any field of work; we often hear people say that you can’t succeed if you don’t look good. Is this true? Is this really how our future is going to look? One positive thing I can pull from all of this is that all of the negativity thrown has the potential to mold girls into very strong and independent people. Though it has and will continue to cause some trauma, when we’re older and successful, we are going to look back and thank those people that judged us on how we looked, because without them, we wouldn’t be nearly as headstrong. But for those unfortunate souls who don’t quite feel good enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough to continue on with life, we can thank our society.

Though it seems tough, keep in mind that we stand together in this. You will never be the only one; we are all such strong, capable characters, and we are able to block out anyone else’s negativity. Just focus on bettering yourself, as we cannot change anyone else.


Chantal van den Broek

Chantal van den Broek is a 19-year-old photographer from the Netherlands. She likes to create conceptual, surreal, beauty, fashion and portrait photos. Most of her photos are self portraits because she can always shoot with herself and she knows what she likes in a photograph. Chantal’s dream is to inspire others and to be seen by some lovely human beings. Find her photos on her Flickr.

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