The Sunday News
WHETHER we want to believe it or not, the media plays a big role in our lives. It includes magazines, adverts, and now social media as well. Even if you manage to avoid all of these things you are still likely to see a billboard or poster at the side of the road.
While media is focused on selling their products, services, and ideas, there is a hidden danger that’s behind it all. Media is a big factor in helping us from our body image, and with the tactics that they use, it has a negative impact on society. Self-esteem is largely affected by body image and the media.
Body image in itself is not a problem. Everyone has a way they think they look. The problem comes when we have a distorted body image, meaning we see imperfections and problems that are not there. This can lead to many complicated problems. For example, many people that suffer from eating disorders/ anaemia believe that they are fat even though they may be underweight in reality.
Most attention is focused on the connection between body image and the media for women, but the same is true for men. The media usually portrays the same type of men and women. Women in media always look polished and perfect. They have perfect hair and perfect makeup with stunning features. They have a thin waistline and curves in all the right places. Their legs are long, and they never look funny. Men, on the other hand, are shown as tall, muscular, and attractive. They have toned physiques (six-pack abs) that the majority of men do not have. The overall message is that women should look like the Kardashians and men like Avengers superheroes.
This is bad becasue . . .
The media is showing us images that we cannot possibly live up to. Models, actors, and singers; celebrities in general, not only have access to professional makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion designers, and personal trainers, but they are also touched up. Before their images are posted on Instagram or published in magazines, their faces are airbrushed to remove any blemishes, flaws, or imperfections. They are photoshopped to look thinner, have a smaller waist, and a larger chest.
Many people do not realise they are trying to look like something that might not even exist in reality. Then they feel bad about themselves and spend time focusing on something that they will not achieve. The media is lying to us about the way the average person looks. And it makes us feel like we should look far different from what we do.
As a society, we place too much emphasis on our appearance. The dictionary describes self-esteem as, “confidence in one’s worth or abilities.” When you see the definition it’s easy to see that our looks should not impact our self-esteem, but for the majority of people they do. We want to be the pretty girl or the handsome guy in the room. We want to stand out from the crowd. And, we want to look like Bonang Matheba or Vuyo Dabula does on TV. When we focus on this and compare ourselves to these unrealistic images, we feel bad about ourselves, and our sense of self-worth drops.
People with low self-esteem spend the most time on social media, studies show. It was also found that social media causes people to have lower self-esteem. That means that people already suffering from low self-esteem are indulging in an activity that causes lower self-esteem. It is a vicious cycle.
How to boost your self-esteem
Limit the time you spend on social media
At this point, after all the studies, there is no doubt that body image and the media can negatively impact our self-esteem. Therefore, you should limit the amount of time that you expose yourself to it. Take breaks from social media. Give yourself time away, so you aren’t constantly exposed to the message that the media is conveying regarding body image.
Stop comparing yourself to others; especially Instagram models.
You will always be unhappy if you are always comparing yourself to others. It’s time to stop so you can improve your self-esteem. The majority of the people in the media have been touched up so you cannot compare yourself to something that is not real. And social media is full of people’s best images. So, don’t compare yourself to those people.
Physical activity and exercise are good for your physical health and mental health. When you exercise, there are endorphins released in your brain that make you feel happier. When you are happier your self-esteem will be better. And, as you exercise, you will lose weight, build muscle tone, and increase your strength. All of these things will help you to feel better about yourself without comparing yourself to others.
Let it go
Sometimes the reason the media and body image hurt our self-esteem so much is because someone in our past made a negative comment about our looks. Despite the old “sticks and stones” rhyme, words do hurt. But, they don’t have to have power over you forever. They will continue to hurt you as long as you continue to give them power over you. But, if you decide to forgive the person that said them and let it go you can move past the hurt.
See a therapist
Body image and the media can be a serious problem, and it can be hard to overcome. If you are struggling with low-esteem due to body image issues, seek professional help. Psychologists can help you pinpoint the underlying issues, see the impact that the media has on your body image, and help you in your recovery.
There is nothing wrong with being a Pokello fan, or even Charity Baaitse (Botswana) follower, but it shouldn’t depress you when you see what they get up to on social media. Live your life the best way you can and be happy!-Additional information from online sources.
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