How The Media May Be Killing You.
By Rebecca Bradley
Everywhere you go there is an advertisement asking if you “want to lose the extra weight gained over thanksgiving”. The media bombards us with images showing us how we should look, to be “socially accepted”. The worst thing is we don’t even realize how much we are affected by these words. I personally know what it feels like to look into a mirror and not like what you see. Teens, like myself, are manipulating messages into negative thoughts about how they should look and act. This causes them to overthink every small freckle, blemish, or eyelash out of place. The over thinking being done by already unstable teens is causing stress in more ways than one, so maybe a compliment here or there isn’t as pointless as you may think.
The first way this thinking may cause harm is emotionally. Not thinking you look nice one day can be taken very personally. If a girl can’t seem to get her hair right in the morning, her whole may be ruined by worrying that her ponytail isn’t frizzy. With the amount of emphasis put on the importance of your appearance throughout all types of media, it is hard to think of yourself as beautiful. Ideal body types are implanted into our minds since before we knew what body image means. The media tricks us into believing that we’re not good looking unless we fit into a specific body type. On average, teen girls spend 7.7 hours a week on their appearance. Adding up to be over an hour everyday (Melissa Dahl, Today). It is hard to believe you look good when swarmed with images of “beautiful” that you may not see in yourself. Your first impression of a person is their appearance, so our looks are important to us. It’s hard to be confident if even you don’t believe in yourself.
Another way body image may be problematic is physically. Research is constantly proving that media does indeed contribute to body image issues and exposure in addition to pressure exerted by media increase body dissatisfaction and disordered eating (Media). If emotions of self image get too negative, thoughts may begin to fit under the category of self hatred. The emotions can get stronger and stronger until a person may decide to physically harm their bodies in order to punish or attempt to fix themselves. An example of this is anorexia. Anorexia is a life threatening condition in which one starves themselves in order to fit under the “ideal body type”. People who are diagnosed with anorexia are constantly thinking, no matter how much weight they lose they are not skinny enough. The constant images and “perfect eyebrows” are causing society to unknowingly hurt themselves. What we see in the media is directly affecting our health and is a serious problem. Unconsciously, I have been directly affected by the media, because I can rarely look into a mirror without having a negative thought on my appearance. An alarming amount of 78% of teen girls have negative thoughts about their appearances weekly (Melissa Dahl, Today). The amount of negativity swarming many of our minds is overwhelming. Body image is based on a very personal level and thanks to the media, it is setting a huge negative weight on society.
The “ideal body image” that has been plastered all over media needs to be fixed. Something as personal as how you think of yourself cannot be changed overnight nor can it be done by someone else. Humans are stubborn, and once they are set in their ways, it is hard to change their minds. Improving body image is completely personal and different for everyone, but I can give you a few tips on what I have done to start you in the right direction. The first thing is complimenting other people. Although this may be what got you here in the first place, putting positive messages out there is never a bad idea. Don’t forget how important it is to complement yourself as well. Find something you like about yourself, whether it’s your personality or your appearance. Take a moment to remind yourself everyday that you are beautiful even if you don’t fit into the latest fashion trends. The last thing, I find the most helpful, is to stop overthinking. Who cares if your hair doesn’t look perfect or your eyeliner isn’t “on fleek”. No matter how you look, you are you and that’s all you can be, so be the best you can be.
Body image is something you begin viewing very early in life. It is a personal and touchy subject for many, but with some positive thinking and a few sweet words, your thoughts on your body can drastically change.
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