Educating body confidence? Deconstruction of the Ted talk “Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you”

“About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, “Am I ugly?” By making this statement, the global director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project Meaghan Ramsey raises the issue of low body-confidence and its consequences in her Ted talk. Subsequently, the speaker suggests delivering appropriate body-confidence education for teenagers and encourages her listeners to work collectively to defeat todays’ image obsessed culture.

In her speech, Meaghan Ramsey claims that in today’s image-obsessed culture people are training their children to exert more mental effort on the way how they look at the expense of all the other aspects of their identity. She supports her claim by talking about the ubiquity of social networks and online trends such as proana (pro-anorexia), size zero models and thinspiration and the social pressure that comes from them. Meaghan Ramsey’s speech is mostly directed to girls alluding that they become the victim of image-obsessed society more easily than boys. The fact that speaker herself is female may also has affected to her decision to specifically elaborate on the girls’ confidence in their appearances.

According to the speaker, low body confidence undermines teenager’s academic achievement, and negatively affects their health pushing them to take risks like early unprotected sex, cosmetic surgery, alcoholism and drug-taking. She supports her fist statement by unsettling information such as: six out of ten girls choose not to do something because of being unconfident about their looks.  31 percent of teenagers are withdrawing from classroom debates to not to draw attention to their appearances, one in five are not showing up to class when they don’t feel they look good, and, finally, in Finland, US and China the teenagers who think they are overweight perform worse at exams than their counterparts who are not concerned with it. However, despite the compelling tone of the speaker, the listeners may question the reliability and generalizability of the given statements since she doesn’t mention any source from which these pieces of information were derived.

Furthermore, Megan Ramsey explicates her second argument by alleging that teenagers who are not confident in their appearances tend to eat unhealthy food, do less physical activities, be easily influenced by people around them, suffer from depression, and, therefore, take more risks. Instead of making speculations, the speaker could have made her argument more convincing by proving the connection between risk-taking and low body confidence with the findings of solid studies.

On the final part of her speech, the speaker suggests to educate body-confidence with the help of programs that address six key areas: 1) media and celebrity culture; 2) competing and comparing looks; 3) respecting and looking after yourself, 4) talking about appearances; 5) teasing and bullying; 6) family, friends and relationships. In addition, she encourages people to challenge the status quo where women are judged based on their appearances rather than abilities. I support Megan Ramsey’s suggestions since appropriate body-confidence education may benefit the teenagers by boosting their self-esteem regardless of their gender.

Overall, despite the obscurity of the used sources, the speaker delivered a very reasonable and inspiring speech. Moreover, her confident posture, pertinent gestures, eye-contact and pauses, clear, friendly and convincing tone makes the speech very enjoyable.

2 thoughts on “Educating body confidence? Deconstruction of the Ted talk “Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you”

  1. Dear Ariya, thank you for your great post! Well done! I enjoyed both watching the video and reading your post. You raised very pertinent and thought-provoking issue. Also, I like the programs which Meaghan Ramsey proposes in her TED video. I cannot agree more that the person should not be judged by his or her appearance, as far as mainly we are not able to change the way we look. However, our abilities and skills are the fruits of our hard work and dedication of time and efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! This is a fantastic deconstruction post, @ariyavvv! (5/5) You not only pick apart the claims, reasons and evidence that the speaker employs, but you also give alternatives and suggestions for how the speaker could have improved her argument. Well done!


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