How the Media Affects Body Image
Body image is the way we perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror. We imagine ourselves to look and act a certain way, even though we may look and act differently to those around us.
Someone has a positive body image if he or she is attuned to the reality of his or her physical shape and size. This person fully understands his or her weight, the form of his or her body (from curves to wrinkles), and the way his or her body moves and functions.
Some of us, however, experience a disconnect between our body image and the reality of our shape and size. The bigger the gap between what we think we look like and what we actually look like, the more likely we struggle with a negative body image. This negative perception of ourselves can affect our behavior and hold us back from social interaction and feelings of security and happiness.
People with an extremely negative body image often become obsessed with parts of their body they dislike. This obsession leads to eating disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders that greatly affect a person’s health and quality of life. Although both men and women experience body image issues, women are more likely to admit negative self-perception.
In everyday conversation, it’s normal to hear a woman bashing herself in front of friends and family. This negative self-talk leads to lower self-esteem and self-confidence.
But why are women so unhappy with their appearances? Some want smaller thighs, bigger breasts, or flatter stomachs. Women use celebrities and socialites as their role models. This trend must be stopped.
In order to stop speaking negatively to ourselves, we must learn the techniques and methods of building a positive and realistic body image.
How to build a positive body image
Turn off the television. Limiting your exposure to exploitative television is a must if you want to rebuild your own positive and realistic body image.
Although television and media are the main outlet through which marketers and advertisers can exploit a woman’s low self-esteem, there still remains shows, music, movies, and books that aim to improve lives. We have to seek out these positive outlets of inspiration and motivation to enrich our lifestyles and learn how to spread positive messages to those around us.
Start by cutting out celebrity news and reality shows. Shows and news about celebrities are often doctored and crafted to get a high number of views. Only if we break from the constant stream of reality TV, mainstream media, celeb news, and advertisements, will we see ourselves as human beings in reality. Let’s start conducting our own research, reading more articles, blogs, and books full of information rather than advertisements. Let’s start looking up to people who represent healthy, confident, and intelligent souls we want to become.
Positive self-talk for a better body image
We can build positive and realistic body images through positive self-talk, becoming aware of what we’re capable of, and understanding our true shape and size.
Positive self-talk is speaking to ourselves using positive and active words that describe how we feel, how we look, and what we’re doing. Many of us practice negative self-talk out of habit. When we look in the mirror, we focus on the parts of our body we dislike and we relay that message either verbally or mentally to our subconscious. We think, “My thighs are so fat,” or we say, “Look at how ugly my butt looks.” When we speak these negative perceptions, we’re damaging our self-esteem. Instead of focusing on something we dislike, we must focus on areas of our body we do like. We could say, “My arms look really toned and fit,” or “I have a really white smile.”
Using positive statements to describe ourselves can boost our self-confidence and help us interact without feeling stigmatized by our insecurities. Not only should we use positive language when speaking about our bodies, but we should employ active language to help us reach our goals. If we plan on losing weight or starting a new diet, negative self-talk can and will inevitably lead to failure.
Active language uses words like choose and am. Statements like, “I choose to eat healthy today,” or “I am beautiful and strong” are active and will reinforce the subconscious, helping us achieve our goals. Avoid using phrases like “have to,” “will,” and “think” in an “I” statement. If we say, “I have to do 30 push-ups,” our subconscious feels like it has no choice in the matter.
If we say, “I will only eat one chocolate cookie,” our mind knows we might do it at some point, but aren’t doing it right now. This is a form of procrastination and delay that hinders progress toward goals and deadlines.
If we say, “I am doing 30 push-ups,” our mind will work to bring our bodies toward completing 30 push-ups. If we say, “I choose to eat one chocolate chip cookie,” we feel empowered and in control of our decisions, which builds our self-confidence.
Practice using positive and active self-talk while looking in the mirror or setting off on a new goal. A great tip is to use repetition as much as possible. For active statements, repeating a phrase like, “I am doing 30 push-ups,” aloud or in your head will lead your body to get into position and push away!
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Polk, W. (2018). How the Media Affects Body Image. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-the-media-affects-body-image/