New year, same pressures?

The New Year and new semester are now well underway and with this, brings a time for reflection.

This past semester has taught me to have more faith in my own abilities. I have always wanted to go to Scotland to study; moving over here was an exciting new chapter of my life. However, I remember that as the move-in date loomed ever closer, I began to worry about how I would make new friends and if my friends at home would forget about me. I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pressures of university life and independent living. I knew that I was making the right decision by moving away, but I was also aware that I was saying goodbye to my security blanket at home.

Professionally reflecting back on last semester, I feel quite proud of what I have achieved. Not just in terms of grades, but in regards to my own personal development. Although at first I know that many people were unsure of how the Working Together and Values modules related to teaching, I really did see both modules as a very important starting point. Values are the basis to teaching- to society as a whole in fact. Values form opinions regarding how we should treat others and shape our views as to what a moral human being actually is. As future educators, we need to be familiar with our own personal and professional values systems in order to benefit children as they form their own opinions. As for the importance of working together, it is evident that collaboration is at the centre of our profession. Throughout our careers, we will need to work together with not only our fellow teaching colleagues, but with CLD, Social Work, pupils, parents, other school support staff and many more people from different walks of life.

Without knowledge of these initial aspects of our work, we would be unable to thrive within our professions and give the best possible education to the children whom we teach.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Starting this semester and coming into 2018, I also began to reflect on a lot of things in my personal life. As New Year’s Eve approaches every year, the same conversations always arise and it is something I have been thinking a lot about lately.

“What are your New Year’s resolutions?”                                                     “New year, new me.”

These statements alone, are fine.

However: although it is great to set goals and aims to motivate yourself, I feel that New Year’s resolutions are often so directly related to body-image and self worth. So many people that I know say that they need to lose weight, they need to get better skin and they wish they looked differently.

They can’t see that they are beautiful just the way they are.

The concept of what is ‘beautiful’ has been warped by advertisement and has left many in society today (especially the younger generation), feeling like they do not look good enough and they need to change themselves.

This issue impacts boys and girls alike, however I feel like there is extreme pressure put on young girls due to the nature of advertisements that are photo-shopped. This creates a snowball effect in which more and more retouched images are being published and therefore having a serious effect on the self worth of more and more people.

Unrealistic beauty standards within advertisements have caused me to see more and more retouched photos on social media. Many people nowadays are not only feeling a lack of self worth due to the false expectations of the media, but are retouching their own photos in order to fit in with this warped concept of what beauty is.

The images at the very start and end of this video are the same, however to me, the original looks different before and after seeing the edited version. Bear in mind that I have done minimal amounts of retouching in comparison to advertisements so you can begin to realise what a massive impact airbrushing in the media must have on the subconscious minds of those in society.

The affect that the retouched photo had on my initial opinion of the untouched photo, really highlights to me how damaging airbrushing and enhancements are within the media, especially for young people. This comparison made me realise why so many people feel the photos they post online will not be ‘good enough’ unless they retouch them.

I am not for one second slating those who do retouch their photos in any way. I am aware that most people in society today do do it in some shape or form. If you want to enhance certain features or edit out imperfections, you can. But what is important to realise is that you should only do this if you want to. You should never feel like you need to. Because you don’t.

If you want to, then you are the one in control and there’s no problem. However, if you feel uncomfortable putting up an unaltered image, then you have fallen victim to the image myth. To be honest, it’s difficult for me to advise what exactly you can do if this is the case. Self worth is something that I myself have struggled with for a very long time. You just need to try and override the conflicting messages in your head and be aware that everyone has flaws, no one is perfect and our individuality needs to be celebrated, not edited away.

Teenagers and young adults are probably impacted the most in terms of feeling the pressures of the image myth. However, this begins from childhood. If we can educate children about the fabricated beauty expectations in the media, then they can become more comfortable and confident with themselves from a young age. I am a Peer Educator through Girlguiding UK and a few years ago, I was trained in a topic called ‘Free Being Me’, designed to improve the body confidence and self esteem of young people. Although it is a programme run through guiding and is therefore targeted at girls, it is something that I believe could be (and should be) incorporated into the curriculum in primary schools. Although I have been referring to low self worth in terms of body image, there are so many other social pressures and aspects of life that can also affect it. This is an issue that must be combated. The Curriculum for Excellence has already highlighted the importance of Health and Wellbeing which is fantastic. Mental and physical health are both so important and are especially critical at this developmental stage. It’s something that I am very passionate about and look forward to incorporating into my lessons as a teacher. Social pressures are often what lead to a decline in mental and physical health so it is out job as teachers to tackle this in every way that we can through education.

 

[There is some strong language in this video however, I feel like it is has an important message regarding self-image.]

3 thoughts on “New year, same pressures?

  1. Richard

    Thanks for a really thought provoking post. Your point about about resolutions is fascinating. I’ve had a bash at trying new things this month. I’ll pos5 a blog about it soon.
    Keep these posts coming!

    Reply
  2. Carrie McLennan

    Lots to think about here. I am grateful for the insight into how you, as an undergraduate, think about being in first year with all that entails. Your retouching clip brings home some of yebissues people your age have to deal with that people of my generation were not faced with.

    Reply
  3. Derek Robertson

    Loved the post…very thought provoking however, the tech geek in me loved the Photoshop video clip of airbrushing a photo even more! As an almost 50 yr old man I am becoming even more acutely aware of how detached I am from what it means to be young today. The image myth and the pressure to always look good or to do what you can to give your look that helping hand before publishing appears to be very powerful. We explore this stuff a little in 3rd year but in the meantime may I suggest you have a look at Dr Sherry Turkle’s work in relation to how we prepare ourselves to be seen online… https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *