From Sophia Bush’s war on Urban Outfitters and the #aeriereal models campaign to obese Barbie and magazines airbrushing skinny models to look fatter, the body image debate has captured our attention for years… and for good reason.
Statistics show that approximately 92 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media. More alarming is that these numbers aren’t exactly shocking. In fact, it’s what we’ve come to expect.
Yes, there are hundreds of reports that prove what a major influence media has on shaping perceptions; I’m not trying to dispute the massive effect media has and could use for good instead of evil. But can we continue to blame the media for every negative thought girls have about themselves? Should we not instead be looking to and encouraging parents, teachers, community leaders, clubs and curriculums to stand in the gap and provide the positive role models that the media has failed to produce?
Now is the time to get fed up with waiting for change to magically happen and start being the change you want to see.
Rather than demonizing the media, we can tell our girls…
1. It’s people who run the media — not robots or aliens or some impenetrable force.And as a person, you can help change its messages about body image.
2. Don’t let the media own real estate in your mind. Ultimately, you have the power to turn off the television, put down the magazine or stop shopping at that store.
3. You may not be able to escape the media’s reach, but you don’t have to live by its rules. Only you choose what to believe about yourself.
Rather than buying into the media’s body image messages, we can tell our girls…
1. The incredible thing about beauty is that can’t be singularly defined. So why bother holding ourselves to flimsy standards that don’t guarantee happiness?
2. Imagine how much better we’d feel about ourselves if we re-channeled the energy we waste on obsessing over our looks to achieving our goals.
3. Self-esteem, inner beauty, respect and ambition are always in trend, no matter your shape, height, size or weight.
Rather than letting media consume us, we can tell our girls…
1. Realize that celebrities are not the only source of role models: Explore the incredible (and often forgotten) women trailblazers throughout history, get to know local women in your town, from doctors to dance instructors, who are doing what they love, and focus more on how you can be a better role model than how others are failing at it.
2. Change your diet: What you feed your mind will be reflected in your attitude. Garbage in, garbage out. Your palate might be comfortable with certain music, movies, people and places, but that doesn’t mean those things are doing any good for your system. Put your brain in neuro boot camp and start gravitating towards positive influences that inspire you and allow you to inspire others.
3. Listen with intent: The easiest way to make the biggest impact is to listen in a new way. Become actively aware of the stress, problems and frustrations surrounding you and react with a plan. If you recognize the triggers that battle with your self-esteem and body image you’ll be better prepared to overcome them.
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