What are media messages telling you to think about your body?

What words come to mind when you think of your body? If the answer isn’t a very positive one then don’t worry as you are not alone! It could be that you are influenced by what media messages are telling you.

This is a very common problem for people today, especially for women. With media messages such as advertisements and images of a specific body type constantly bombarding us wherever we are or whatever we’re doing—on television, on our phones, on social media platforms or in shopping centres—it’s easy to see how we can feel bad about our bodies.

Too often, the media puts forward one specific body type as the “Holy Grail” to aspire to, which can make you feel bad about your body if it’s very different to the “ideal” image that is being portrayed.

Let’s look at how you can turn media messages about body image on their head.

  1. Question what’s realistic

When you see an image that triggers low self-esteem and self-worth, take a step back from it and ask yourself some important questions.

  • How real is this image? Is it something I should be aspiring to?
  • What’s really involved in achieving that look? Would I have to put in an unrealistic amount of work or money to make it happen for myself or is it completely impossible because of airbrushing?
  • Is it the norm in everyday life? Do I actually see many people like this when I walk down the street?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you’ll often find that there’s no real truth in what you’re seeing. Which means it’s not worthy of your time or energy. Training your mind to view adverts (and media messages in general) more critically can be an important step towards having a positive body image.

Try to go through this process whenever you scroll through social media, flick through magazines or watch television shows or movies.

2. Audit who you’re following on social media

Have a think about the type of people you follow, especially on Instagram. Do they promote a positive body image or are they part of the problem when it comes to body negativity?

According to research on Instagram and body image, we don’t need to see many adverts or images of “attractive” models to feel bad about our own bodies. Just three images are enough to tip the balance towards negative comparisons. This isn’t confined only to women as studies have shown that men can be quick to start negative body comparisons when they see adverts or images of ripped, muscular male models online.

With this in mind, it’s time to audit the type of influencers you actively follow online. Have a look at how those people encourage you to feel about your body image. If it’s not favourable perhaps it’s time to unfollow them and to swap them for people who are going to inspire a more positive body image.

Instagram is a major player as quite a few studies have drawn links to unfavourable body comparisons after looking at images of either celebrities or lesser known “attractive” Instagrammers with “ideal” bodies. It’s not just Instagram though – spending time on Facebook can also be linked to decreased body satisfaction, according to research. Being a bit more savvy with who you follow can be a game changer for your body image.

According to studies, viewing images around self-compassion on social media is likely to increase your satisfaction with your body and appreciation for it. Studies have suggested that looking at “fitspiration” images can reduce your self-compassion, possibly because you can’t help but compare them to your own body and feel guilty if yours doesn’t match theirs.

If you regularly find yourself feeling disheartened and down on yourself after you’ve seen pictures of toned, fit influencers, switching to self-compassion images afterwards can stop this being such a big problem. It’s a good compromise if you don’t want to stay off social media completely but you need to take steps to minimise its less positive effects on your body image.

3. Join the body image revolution

Tired of the messages you see from the media every day? Join the campaign to change body image perceptions.

You don’t need to be actively posting images of yourself on social media to do this. It can be as simple as sharing body positive images from people you admire for their body positivity or highlighting brands that align themselves with your body image values.

But remember that nobody can tell you what to think about your body, so go ahead and love your body unconditionally, because it’s the only one that you have!

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/positive-body-image/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eat.22254

https://www.recovery.org/pro/articles/how-social-media-can-actually-improve-body-image/

Medical Disclaimer: All information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.

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