The media is constantly blamed for just about any problem: violence, addiction, and mental health. However, one area the media certainly does have influence over is body image. Many young men and women struggle with their appearance and social media, TV, and movies don’t help. I know people who have attempted to match the “healthy” and “naturally beautiful” models they see in magazines or on their screens, and it never seems to work. Here are some things to keep in mind about trying to look like people you see in media.
Healthy is different for everyone.
Some people are born skinny and have a hard time keeping on weight. Others have more muscle mass and may look bigger. There are so many aspects that can go into weight, and diet and exercise are just two of them. Genetics play a big role, as do many (if not most) health conditions. People can end up in unhealthy weight ranges for many reasons, which is why even BMI is not an accurate indicator of health. So whether you are comparing yourself to your friends of a celebrity, remind yourself that your health story is not the same as theirs.
Photoshop looks very real.
Although there are a few companies determined to show real people in their campaigns, most advertisers will use Photoshop to add or subtract weight and definition from even the most in-shape models. In fact, photographers have caught fire for changing people’s skin color to meet an “ideal”. In a world where the image counts more than the negative consequences, these practices are unlikely to ever go away fully, so we should always keep this in the back of our mind.
Plastic surgery and makeup affects perception.
Both plastic surgery and makeup are not new concepts, but they have been significantly refined over the years. People get surgery to slightly alter themselves, but it can make a big difference. Makeup can also change how someone looks — just search through social media for an hour and you’ll see. Neither of these tools is limited to just women, so men should keep this in mind when comparing ourselves to others as well.
You only see the best of the best.
The reality of life is that many of us have an average appearance. Most models, celebrities, and influencers have an above-average appearance, or get work done to appear that way. They also have dedicated times of the day where they essentially get paid to work out and follow strict diets that may not even be healthy. Still beyond that, we only ever see the best of their photos, while the 174 bad ones are deleted. It can take hours to perfect an Instagram post, so don’t be upset when you try to recreate them and fall short.
Although I typically talk about physical health, mental health is important as well and can cause us to drastically change our physical habits. Instead of focusing on achieving others’ goals, why not set healthy goals for ourselves? Managing health conditions, eating the right diet for you, and exercising often should be our standard. Join me in taking back control over our lives and our health.