The Media, Weight and Body Image

media and body image

The media’s obsession with body image often causes issues with disordered eating, perfectionistic tendencies for beauty and an increase in the need to be ‘thin’. Photos, ads and billboards project images that are airbrushed and unrealistic. For years, thin has been ‘in’ and has become the measuring tool that individuals use to determine how they look and feel. Sadly, it has also become an indicator of beauty, self-worth and self-esteem.

Additionally, the weight-loss industry has boomed based on this phenomenon and is at an all time high with just about every channel at one point or another advertising some sort of weight-loss product. These ads continue to create shame, blame and guilt in individuals who may try to fit the media norm of what people “should” look like.

Impact of the Media on Body Image

This takes a toll on the population as a whole, and especially women and girls whose bodies are more often subjected to media portrayals of beauty. In reflecting on media impressions, it’s clear this has a heavy impact on one’s self-image and psychological state of being.

While there are many new advertisements that aim to celebrate women and embrace their unique bodies, the psychological influence of perfection that has been perpetuated for years has made its mark on society as a whole. Body shaming and fat shaming have also grown worse with social media bullying. It’s important that individuals begin to practice balanced habits along with body acceptance to remove themselves from the dieting roller coaster. This helps to create a long-term healthy lifestyle focused on physical wellness and psychological well-being.

Some of these healthy habits include:

Stop Dieting: Eat Healthy and Balanced Meals Instead

Dieting causes a cycle of issues that include deprivation and can also cause many forms of disordered eating. Instead of leading to weight-loss, they mostly lead to weight-gain due to the nature of the feast/famine cycle.This often impacts self-worth and self-esteem and can be correlated with psychological issues such as anxiety and depression. Sadly, dieting has become a normal part of our culture rather than an exception.

Celebrate Your Body: Focus on Self-Love and Self-Acceptance

There is no such thing as perfect, for anyone. Even supermodels have self-doubt and worry about how they look because they are human too. Most models are airbrushed in ads anyway, and this gives a false sense of what is real and what is not, thus skewing reality. Start to look at what makes you unique, beautiful and healthy. Shift the focus to health instead of focusing on perfection. This also means accepting your assets as well as your perceived flaws and loving them all the same.

Moving for Strength and Tone instead of to Achieve External Validation or Body Perfection

Once again, the media has us addicted to approval which leads to the cycle of going to the gym to gain external validation rather than internal validation, such as working out to be healthy. Even media perceptions of ‘healthy’ lead people to believe that two percent body fat is attainable and expected for everyone.

When you exercise to be healthy rather than to gain acceptance from others, there is a psychological shift that occurs. There is an increase in well-being because it’s no longer a forced activity, but one that focuses on longevity and health.

Kristin LloydAbout the Author:

Kristin Lloyd, MS, LPC/LMHC, PhD-c has been creating outstanding results for individuals, couples and organizations for over 10 years as a highly-accomplished psychotherapist, transformational mindset mentor, college educator and consultant. She is now leading bariatric patients and candidates through massive mindset shifts to help them create lasting behavioral changes and emotional adjustments for happy and healthy lives.  You can find out more about Kristin at www.bariatricmindset.com.

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