Standing Up to Media Myths

Bathroom-mirror-signBy: Colin DiPaola, Project HEAL North Carolina

It is unfortunate that many of today’s stereotypes about body image are directly related to the media. The media (in all forms) portrays both sexes in ways that bring doubt and unhappiness into the minds of many individuals. When going through business school both graduate and undergraduate programs are taught a lot about marketing and how to market to certain groups of people. This starts out with topics like marketing to children with bright colors and fun expressions with other children laughing and playing. Then the conversation takes a more serious turn, and the reality begins to surface that marketing to children is easy, but how do we continue to market to those children well into their adulthood? The answer all too often comes out to be that you make the child want something that they do not currently possess. Once this process starts, it leads into not only material wants and desires but also into physical traits of underwear models or the skin and hair of make-up models. But the truth is that these things are all unattainable.

Large companies use photo and video editing software to “slim down” models who they think will look too “big” to the audience, or shine hair that may look dull, or smooth skin that had one or two blemishes, when in fact these models are already emaciated due to the lifestyle they are forced to lead because of their profession. Looking good and feeling good about you and helping others do so is actually the farthest thing from what the media portrays. It is sad and eye-opening when a person can’t walk a block without seeing billboards, hearing radio ads, and hearing conversation from peers that has to do with losing weight. Positive body image isn’t looking good in someone else’s perspective, but being happy with who you are. GUESS WHAT, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!

People come in all different shapes and sizes, body types and skin tones. For some people it is anatomically impossible for them to have a six-pack or a thigh-gap. These things are made up of thoughts about disliking one’s self and trying to conform to someone else’s anatomical standards. Love your body because it was made the way it was supposed to be made. Love yourself because striving for an unattainable standard is impossible. Being content is being happy, and without happiness, life has no meaning. The next time someone asks, “Do these pants make my butt look big,” say that you don’t judge other people’s appearance because it is not healthy to do so. Stand up against what we know is wrong and fight for your right to be happy with who you are.

The power to change our society’s views can be influenced by a smaller number of people than you might think. If the consumer can stand up and say that they are sick and tired of being treated like the way they were built is wrong, then big businesses will listen. All it takes is for one person to stick their neck out. Join a local group that supports positive body image, or volunteer on a large scale, either way, the more people who advocate eliminating hostile images from the media, the closer we get to achieving our goal.

“We may walk slowly, but we will never walk back.” – Anonymous.