Are You Body Conscious?
Blame the Media.
The average person views around five thousand advertisements per day; one third of those advertisements involve the appearance of body ideals.
These perfect “ideal” bodies can have a negative impact on body image and behaviors. Media images most often project an unrealistic and even dangerous standard of feminine beauty. They can have a powerful influence on the way women view themselves. The media is littered with images of females who portray an unrealistic standard of beauty, making it difficult for the “average” woman to live up to.
Women and men naturally come in all shapes and sizes, but not all those shapes are readily accepted in our society.
The average American woman stands 5’ 3” tall, weighs 166 lbs and wears a size 14.
The typical fashion model stands 5’ 11” tall, weights 115 lbs and wears a size 0.
This significant discrepancy portrayed by advertisements and popular media can negatively impact a woman’s body image; this can affect women in many aspects of their life. For some, not being able to attain the “perfection” of the images they see can result in the development of depression, obesity, extensive cosmetic surgery and eating disorders—as they strive for an unrealistic vision of themselves.
Men are not immune to these unrealistic portrayals and the negative consequences. The incidence of body image disorders in men has increased over the last two decades.
Many of the models shown on television, advertisements and other forms of popular media are 20% below ideal body mass index, suggesting that many of them might meet the criteria for an eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa. Concern over appearance and body weight often surface early in females’ development and continue throughout their lifespan. Girls as young as seven years of age report that they want to lose weight. Forty-seven percent of 5th to 12th grade girls reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
Combating The Media Message
It is important not to be seduced by the media’s image of beauty and to view it for what it truly is—a fantasy. Remind yourself and your kids that happiness does not come from our appearance but from our life choices, values and relationships. Being healthy is more than numbers on a scale, it’s a mindset. Our weight is only one aspect of our beauty.
Four steps for healthy body attitudes:
- Identify and challenge negative thoughts about your body. You will make more positive changes in eating choices and exercise by having a positive outlook.
- Wear clothes that compliment your body shape. Find clothes that fit well and compliment your body weight. Do not wait until you are the “perfect” weight to buy nice clothes.
- Remind yourself of the ways your body works for you and appreciate being healthy. Do not take your health for granted. Be grateful for your health and life.
- Live your purpose. Do not make your happiness contingent on how you look. Rather, work on aspects of your life that give you a sense of purpose and meaning.
Beauty is Determined More by What We Do, than How Much We Weight