I am writing this paper from inside my fourteen-year-old niece's bedroom. Her walls and even ceiling are plastered with images of models, actors and musicians. These images are probably what she perceives is the perfect body image. Body image is something that many Americans are faced with everyday when they look in the mirror, at the television and in magazines. The media portrays the perfect female body image as small waist, slim thighs, large breast, long hair, and white teeth. In this essays instead of reading and researching in many books on what experts say I decided to go straight to the sources "women and teens who face this problem everyday.
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The first person I spoke with was Consuela Donald a fourteen-year-old student about to enter her first year of high school. Consuela is 5'10- and 135lbs, which is about the average weight for her height. The average American woman is around 5'5- and weighs around 130. Consuela walks in and before I begin my talk with her, she begins to complain about her hair. She has her hair in cornrows which is a style of braiding that is braided to scalp so that is resembles the rows of corn on a corn cob. She explains to me that she does not like it when her mother (a stylist) braids her hair and she feels that the hairstyles her friends have are better than hers are. I explain to Consuela that we will be discussing body image and I explain to her what body image is. We begin discussing looks and she tells me that she does not like the way her face looks. She breaks off in mid-sentence and adds, "I look a lot like my mother and I don't like that. I really don't- (Consuela Donald), personal communication, July 17, 2003). Consuela says that she feels her mother is attractive, but not very pretty. I decide to shift the conversation to how she feels about her peers and how they may perceive her. It is important during the teenage years for many girls to feel accepted by their peers.