Love Your Body vs. Change Your Body

seventeen.comHas anyone seen this month’s Seventeen magazine? As I flipped through the magazine, our society’s obsession with appearance and changing the way we look was everywhere. There was advice on how to attract a guy by applying new summer makeup and a guide on how to gain confidence by losing weight for the summer, but nothing that had anything to do with self-esteem or being happy with yourself just the way you are.

Then I went to, hoping to find something that teaches us teenagers to accept ourselves as we are. I was happy to find a section called “17 Body Peace,” which has a body peace treaty that you can sign online. I could not love the ideas in the peace treaty more. They include: “Know that I am beautiful just the way I am,” “Accept that beauty is not only about my looks,” “It’s about my awesome personality and my energy that creates a whole, unique package” and “Realize that the mirror can reflect only what’s on the surface of me, not who I am inside”. I also loved that over 79,000 people had already signed it.

If the magazine printed articles on accepting your body alongside how to boost confidence by doing small things such as applying makeup, I would be a little more OK with the mixed messages that magazines give us teenagers. What the magazine is doing, though, is putting the “change your body” message front and center in their magazine, and hiding the “love your body” message under a small section of their website.

As teenagers, we turn to magazines such as Seventeen to read stories that we can relate to. We use them as guides not only for makeup and clothing, but for advice and support on other parts of our lives. If all this magazine is giving to us are messages that we should always be doing something to change or “improve” our bodies, then how are we supposed to follow the advice of the treaty to “accept” and love our bodies?

-Brooke, CYWH Summer Volunteer