Your body image and self esteem, and how images are portrayed in the media, are intimately tied together ...women, men and children.
Do you find yourself comparing yourself to picture in magazines and thinking: "I need look like this. I can't help but think of only I were thinner taller skinnier prettier more glamorous leggy and oh...did I say skinnier? that I would get places quicker."
All these glamour shots perpetuate myths - that affect our body image and self esteem. We believe the pretty picture we buy into: we can't be happy until we have a certain weight or shape body. When we believe that we make it true. In line with that more women and men are dieting in desperate attempts to improve their self esteem and confidence. As if it isn't a problem enough that it's a lie that thinness = you get the man of your dreams and happiness ever after, the images we're sold are blatantly unrealistic. The media and enormous body image distortions are responsible for keeping us trapped in diet city.
When it comes to the body image and self esteem trap we need to ask ourselves.... Do we even know what 'real' bodies look like:
As one person in a forum said: "I like to look at women's belly dancers as reminders of what real bodies look like. I love how they wear skimpy clothes so confidently."
I know that for myself - being tricked into going to a nudist campground - was something I would NEVER have done - ever! But it was the best thing that ever happened to my body image. My body image and self esteem were rock bottom -but when I compared them to 'real' bodies instead of photoshopped ones - the body I thought I hated to so much was just fine. Body images in the media are designed to make us feel less secure about ourselves - without our insecurity we would have no need to buy their make up, hair products, slimming products and so on....
All those images we see of the 'happy and successful' in magazines, billboards and on telly effect our body image and self esteem in ways we might never imagine because we internalize those images and use them as an ongoing and subconscious comparison to find ourselves forever lacking.
Let's consider what we're really seeing when it comes to body image and the media. Firstly, often what we're seeing is a body double. According to the museum of hoaxes (photo above), with just a bit of nifty photo-shopping Oprah's head was transplanted onto a completely different body, And let's face it, when it's not a body double, the average model is somewhere between 16 and 24 years of age, chosen precisely because she's:
So what happens to our body image when we compare ourselves to Ms 16 to 24 year old Ms apparently Perfect? Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that our body image and self esteem plummets. We become less confident and like ourselves less.
And what weight loss plan focuses on building your self esteem? They all assume that when you lose weight your self esteem will automatically improve. That may be true in the short term, but it doesn't necessarily hold true in the longer term. You need a plan that builds your self confidence.
But wait - when it comes to self esteem and body image it gets worse..... Not only is our heightened body awareness also impacted by body comparison but lets photoshop images into a state of zero defect and whoa, the stakes for women and body image as well as the male body image get a whole lot higher.
Now, not only are we comparing with non average ideals - but we're competing with photoshopped images that are flagrantly unrealistic! No wonder anorexia and bulimia are so rife. But there is good news - countries like Israel, Spain and France are starting to at least ban the use of too thin models.
Sadly with the rise in media aimed at men, and the male 'beauty' image changing - the images in and on male orientated magazine doesn't do much for the body image and self esteem of Mr. Average either. The average photoshop images of men have had their pecs enhanced, more washboard abs added and not to mention a bit of tweaking done to their biceps too!
For example, do you remember the pumped up version of the tennis player, Andy Roddick on a 2007 cover of cover of Men's Health Magazine?
Roddick is quoted as saying: "...I'm not as fit as the Men's Fitness cover suggests...little did I know I have 22 inch guns and a disappearing birth mark on my right arm... I walked by the newsstand in the airport and did a total double take ...it was pretty funny....whoever did this has mad skills."
Well photoshoppists might have mad skills - but do they ever stop to think how self esteem and body image are tied together and how body image and the media affect millions of men and boys in a negative way.
So guess what they did a body switch on him too and the fact that he doesn't mind, but thinks it's funny that they didn't deem his own body good enough - says a lot! (Frankly I find it refreshing)
And on one online poll of 42 422 people 93% of people thought his body had been doctored. But how many of us actually remember that when we're blithely flipping through a magazine and feeling increasingly body aware - aware that we don't match up, that is!
So, it's no wonder that Bigorexia (also known as the Adonis complex) - a type of Muscle dysmorphia is growing at an alarming pace as men try to keep up with these images.
The bottom line? Take what you see in pictures with a BIG pinch of salt and whatever you do... if you want to not to be affected by photoshopped images and maintain your a high self esteem, don't indulge in body comparison with media images. You'll never find yourself on the winning side. It's time for a beauty revolution and a backlash against photoshop images and measuring our worth according to our body.
And whatever you do, if you do decide you want to shed a few pounds do first check out - is it really necessary?
One last thing - how prevalent are photoshop images? You may be surprised to find out that nowadays we hardly see any images that aren't photoshopped! The media and body image along with self esteem and body image are tied together to our detriment.
Jes Baker - hear her roar!
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