How the Media Shapes the Way We See Ourselves

Media Self-Perception Magazines

The way that media influences your self-esteem and body image can affect everyone, and can play a big role in not only meeting your weight management goals, but also in your overall health.

The media and other outside influences affect how we view ourselves every day, and nationally acclaimed psychotherapist Merrill Littleberry, LCSW, LCDC, CCM, CI-CPT, has seen the day-to-day struggle that faces many of the patients in her practice. Littleberry shared about how the media plays a role in our self-perception at the 4th Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

“The media will make you think that you are less significant,” Littleberry said. “…It gives us unrealistic expectations of someone being something that really doesn’t exist.”

Prior to giving her talk, Littleberry searched on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site to find out how many people in the U.S. population are models, and she found that number is only 0.05 percent.

What does this mean to us? It means we base our beauty on less than 0.05 percent of the population that is in the media — and that we’re looking at — 97 percent of the time. Because of this, Littleberry encourages us to take a step back for a moment before we judge ourselves based on what we see in the media.

“When 97 percent of our media is 0.05 percent of the population, we start believing and getting a skewed idea of what society really looks like,” Littleberry said. “What we need is a picture of this audience, because this is what society looks like.”

When we see the imagery often portrayed in the media of what the “perfect body” is, negative thoughts start to swirl in our heads about our own bodies. This negative thinking, Littleberry warns, is not only a letdown emotionally, but it’s also damaging to your weight management goals.

“If most of our day has negative thoughts, guess what our body does? Our body reacts with a negative reaction,” Littleberry said. “When your body is in a negative state, it’s in survival mode, and it holds onto our fat cells as storage because it thinks we’re in war and combat. It makes it really, really difficult for you to feel happy and be healthy.”

But we have the capability to control our thoughts and to not let the media get us down, Littleberry says. By recognizing that these thoughts are based off of an illusion that the media represents the majority, we can take back the way in which we perceive ourselves and shape it into something positive.

“You have the ability to realize that you are stronger than the media and the environment that surrounds you,” Littleberry said. “You have the control to change your thought process, and as we change our thought process, and the stronger we get as proof, the more impact we will have on society and the media.”

Want to hear more from Merrill Littleberry? Check out the video below to view her whole talk from the 4th Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention, and make plans to attend this year’s Convention to hear more inspirational messages!

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