Body Image Essay a Grand Prize Winner in National Contest [Corrected 05/06/13]

By Perlberg, Steven | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 2, 2013 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Body Image Essay a Grand Prize Winner in National Contest [Corrected 05/06/13]


Perlberg, Steven, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Jennifer Wayland's award-winning essay is personal. So personal that she wrote it as well as she could the first time so she wouldn't have to go back and edit it.

Now Jennifer, a freshman at Parkway Central High School, is a grand-prize winner in Major League Baseball's "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" essay contest honoring Jackie Robinson's legacy.

Jennifer's personal story about body image was selected from more than 18,000 other student essays. She submitted her essay as an extra credit assignment for class.

"I was thinking, 'What barriers have I entered in the past year?'" Jennifer said. "What I wrote my essay on was a big one. It was fresh in my mind."

Studies show body image is on a lot of other young women's minds too. In a study of college students, 74.4 percent of normal-weight women said they thought about their weight or appearance "all the time" or "frequently."

Jennifer will join Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter, at the 2013 MLB All-Star Game and at the 2013 World Series.

Xavier Morgan-Gillard, a fourth-grader at Jackson Park Elementary School in University City, won a first prize in the contest for his essay about overcoming selective mutism, a childhood communication anxiety disorder that affects one in 1,000 children referred for mental health treatment.

Both Jennifer and Xavier will receive a Microsoft laptop computer for their essays.

Jennifer's classmates have been supportive, she says, joking that they now have a local celebrity in their midst. Those that she has shared the essay with have been touched by her story.

"It's moved them and had an impact on them. It's a new experience to think I can affect people," Jennifer said. "It has changed my perspective on what I write and who I write it too."

So will Jennifer pursue a career in writing? She's still trying to figure it out but she has plenty of time.

"Some kind of writing career is definitely not out of the question."

---

JUST A NUMBER

By JENNIFER WAYLAND

Ninth grade

Parkway Central High School

Most people's personal barriers come from the outside. There's an injustice that they must overcome to make a difference in the world, and after chipping away at that barrier, aided by the use of nine certain values, it finally falls and they are free. Stories like that, like Jackie Robinson's, are hopeful, uplifting, and inspirational. However, my case is a little different the barrier didn't come from the outside. It had been a part of me, it was taught to me in a way. And that makes my story less glamorous, rougher around the edges. It makes my story that much harder to hear, because no one likes to talk about body image and weight.

To dispel the assumption that only overweight people are unhappy with their bodies, I want to say that I had always been a normal weight underweight according to the doctor, actually. I just didn't look it I don't have the body type that has stick-thin limbs and lean muscle. I took up space too much space, I began to think.

In eighth grade, as I looked at the girls who danced or played soccer year-round, as I craned my neck to be more and more jealous of the tall, willowy girls, it hit me that I was gross. Disgusting, in fact, because I didn't have those legs or those abs. Those girls had "good" bodies, and I did not. So I told myself that I would get that body, and I would feel good when I did.

When I started working for it, though, that began the worst time of my life. It wasn't fun, eating less and less, counting every calorie, spending hours on the Internet looking for motivation and methods to lose weight, and doing endless exercises in my room. It wasn't fun to lie to my parents and my friends. And it really wasn't fun to discover that I just hated my body and myself more with each passing day. I was constantly cranky, obsessed, and struggling to keep up with life. When I graduated eighth grade, I finally admitted I couldn't keep going the way I was.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Body Image Essay a Grand Prize Winner in National Contest [Corrected 05/06/13]
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?