Get Media Smart: Maintain a Healthy Body Image

Popular media has a large influence on how we view our body and overall identity, which can have a profound impact on our self-confidence and overall self-image. It is important to learn how to become what is known as a “critical viewer of the media.”

If we allow the media to dictate how we feel about ourselves, we could be in danger of damaging our fragile and pliable self-esteem. The way we view our self-image is vital to our overall mental, physical, and emotional health. Learning how to recognize and separate the realities and fictional parts of the media will help you to protect your self-confidence. Remember, advertisers create their message based on what they think you will want to see.  They focus on what will affect you and attempt to compel you to buy their product.

Things to think about:

  • Advertisements are created to do one thing: convince you to buy or support a specific product or service.
  • In order to do this, advertisers will often construct an emotional experience that mimics reality. Remember, you are only seeing what the advertisers want you to see.
  • As individuals, we decide how to experience the media messages we encounter. We can choose to use a filter that helps us understand what the advertiser wants us to think or believe and then choose whether we want to think or believe that message. We can choose a filter that protects our self-esteem and body image. 

Protect Yourself

  • Make a list of companies who consistently send negative body image messages and make a conscious effort to avoid buying their products. Write them a letter explaining why you are using your “buying power” to protest their messages. You are making a vote with your wallet!
  • Tear out the pages of your magazines that contain advertisements or articles that focus on thinness or degrade people of larger sizes. Enjoy your magazine without negative media messages about your body.
  • Write a letter to an advertiser you think is sending positive, inspiring messages that recognize and celebrate the natural diversity of human body shapes and sizes. Compliment their courage to send positive, affirming messages. You may think that your single opinion will not make a difference, but advertisers want to know what positively connects their product or service to their consumer.

If you are interested in talking to someone about your body image, self-esteem, weight, eating habits, or the effects the media has on you personally, feel free to make an appointment at the Counseling and Career Development Center by stopping by or calling (912) 478-5541. You can also make an appointment to talk to someone at the Counseling Center about the Healthy Bodies group, which focuses on improving body image, making healthy eating and exercise choices, and improving self-esteem.

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