Tag Archives: self-esteem

Pass the Mashed Potatoes? Eating Disorders and the Holidays


By Carolyn Schweitzer, Editorial Intern

Photo by Christina McCafferty, 18, Massachusetts

The holiday season, though “the most wonderful time of the year,” can also be the most stressful. As  a teen, besides end-of-the-semester schoolwork, there may also be trips to plan, cards to send, parties to attend, and presents to buy, not to mention the colder weather! Holidays can really take a toll on all of us, but this time of year can be especially difficult for those who struggle with eating disorders.

According to the Eating Recovery Center of Denver, Colorado, more than 11 million Americans struggle with an eating disorder. Major life events, such as leaving home for college, can cause those who are genetically predisposed to having eating disorders to develop them for the first time. In fact, the average age at which an eating disorder first develops is 19. The pressures of living away from home, class work, making new friends, and all around stress can trigger these unhealthy habits in some students. Approximately 10% of women in college are estimated to have an eating disorder.

Families and loved ones often don’t realize that their loved one has developed an eating disorder or may be at risk for one until they come home for the holidays. It’s important to be aware of how new college students are dealing with stress and of any possible problems that might have developed.

The Eating Recovery Center recently outlined five important warning signs that families and friends should keep in mind over winter break.

  1. Noticeable weight loss or weight gain since he or she entered college.
  2. Helping with the preparation of holiday meals but not eating them.
  3. Excessive exercise, even outdoors in poor winter weather conditions.
  4. Withdrawal from family and friends and avoidance of gatherings, even if he or she has not seen loved ones for months.
  5. Discussing college in a “stressed out” or obviously anxious manner or altogether avoiding conversations about school.

If you do notice any warning signs, set aside some time to talk to your friend or family member in a private place. Even if he or she denies any problems, be sure they know that you’re there for them. Showing someone with disordered eating that you care is important before, after, and during treatment. If someone does need professional help, be informed about the counseling services available on campus and nearby treatment programs that specialize in eating disorders. Asking for help is hard to do, but you can make it easier for them by simply being there.

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up (pun intended!) in everything you have to do. But take some time out of your busy holiday schedule this year to check in with all of your friends and family. Let them know that you care. Keep in mind that early treatment is the best way to combat eating disorders and reach out now!

To learn more about eating disorders and what you can do to help, visit:

The National Eating Disorders Association:


Eating Recovery Center: http://www.eatingrecoverycenter.com/


The Case for Unaltered Celebrity Photos

By Sarah Binning
As unaltered photographs of Jennifer Aniston hit the Internet, airbrushing has again made headlines. The original photo shows Aniston’s freckled, lined face, while the magazine cover of Australia Madison indicates perfect skin sans freckles and wrinkles.
Most of the viewing public knows media images are edited. A recent study by the Good Surgeon Guide, indicates that nearly 90 percent of teen girls are aware celebrity images are edited. This leads us to an important question: If people know that these photos are unrealistic, why do is there so much interest in Photoshopped images?
Do you think celebrities would be less famous if media portrayed the “unedited” versions of them? The Merrriam-Webster definition of “celebrity” is the “state of being celebrated.”So what are we actually celebrating? Their talents? Accomplishments? Looks? It’s easy to focus on “celebrating” so much that we forget they are human. We all age, get wrinkles, and sport the occasional dreaded pimple!
Maybe if we all saw more unedited photos of these celebs, we could recognize them as “normal” and create a newer, more positive standard of beauty. And isn’t it possible that their flaws would make them more likable to us, not less?
Teens may understand that media images are unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean the images don’t affect their self-esteem. This summer, Teen Voices’ teen editors spent an entire week discussing and analyzing media representations of women. The teen editors also uncovered the types of females who are represented in film and TV, and, more importantly, which types are left out. Our girls discussed how easy it is to feel your self-esteem lowered, and to feel like a failure when you can’t reach impossible beauty. These standards might be unrealistic, but they can still deeply impact the way teens view themselves.
We’re always happy to see groups taking steps toward combating false representations of women. OneStopPlus.com, a top plus-sized retailer, will showcase only plus-sized models during their show at New York Fashion Week. The retailer is taking a lot of heat for participating in Fashion Week – but we’re looking forward to seeing these curvy women in the show!

Boston Girls Express Themselves…Poetically!

By Teen Voices editorial intern Jackie Catcher

Poetically Speaking performers and Teen Voices peer leaders-in-training Anna-Cat and Kassandra

Poetically Speaking performers and Teen Voices peer leaders-in-training Anna-Cat and Kassandra

Whoever said “money makes the world go round” should have attended Poetically Speaking, where 20 teens proved there’s more to life than making bank.  The annual poetry/spoken word event, which Teen Voices presented in partnership with Emerson College, had a special theme this year: “The Value of Voice.”  Teen girls (and a couple of women) performed their original poetry to a packed house at Emerson, using four topics to guide their poems: overdraft protection, more than face value, making ‘change,’ and R.I.C.H. (Respected, Influential, Courageous and Hopeful) Girls.

Through prose and rhymes, the girls thanked the people who have supported and cared for them, discussed the meaning of real beauty, thought aloud about how to improve our world, and showed how their respect, influence, courage and hope make them some of the RICHest girls in the world.  “My outer beauty doesn’t make me successful, get it straight.  It’s my passion, drive, and determination that structure my fate.  My passion for writing is going to open my gate,” rhymed Tekeisha Meade in her poem Imagine.

Kaire greets the audience during her performance

Kaire greets the audience during her performance at Poetically Speaking

As girls danced onto the stage, host Saun Green kept everyone laughing, but these girls were also here to talk seriously about change – and we don’t mean coins.  Poet  Kaire Holman recited, “I’m here to pick up the change and advance the pace of this race, and in time, our line will be fine.  I’m that coin collector,  and I’m also their overdraft protection.”

Rather than addressing dollar value, the teens expressed voice value—the importance of amplifying their voices.  They had the audience laughing, crying, and dancing in their seats.  “Do we all need to conform?  Conform to the ideals that this thickness I got right here is wrong?  That my light brown and curly hair don’t fit their song?   Well listen —  listen carefully.  The beauty I got, you can’t even see,” wrote Natasha Gonzalez in her piece Conforming.

The Poetically Speaking performers gather after the event

The Poetically Speaking performers gather after the event

Inspiring, strong, confident, and beautiful, these young poets showed that teen girls are way more than just pretty faces – they are a social movement, a generation of strong new voices, a group that isn’t going to wait to add their voices to society — because their time is now!

Photography by Lolita Parker, Jr. of Parker Digital Imaging