How to Stop Media Messages from Derailing Your Body Image
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
The media can be a big culprit for media messages about body image. Television, movies, adverts and social media are just a few of the ways that the media bombards us with messages about how we “should” look and it can all add up to a super negative view of your own body. Too often, the media puts forward one specific body type as the “Holy Grail” to aspire to, which can make you feel super bad about your body if you’re not close to it.
Let’s talk about how you can turn media messages about body image on their head.
Question what’s real
When you see an image that would normally trigger 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 you should really be aspiring to?
What’s really involved in achieving that look? Would you have to put in an insane and totally unrealistic amount of work or money to make it happen for yourself or is it completely impossible because of airbrushing?
Is it the norm in everyday life? Do you see many people like this when you walk down the street, for example?
Is it in any way helpful or healthy to compare yourself to this ‘ideal’? Or are you just conditioned to believe that it’s what you should be aspiring towards?
Once you’ve asked yourself these types of questions, you’ll often find that there’s no real truth in what you’re seeing. And that means it’s not worthy of your time or emotions. Training your mind to view adverts (and media messages in general) more critically can be a super important step for being more positive about your body.
You can go through this process whenever you scroll through social media, flick through magazines or watch television shows or movies.
Audit who you’re following online
Have a think about the type of people you follow, especially on the likes of Instagram. Do they promote 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/ images of “attractive” models to feel bad about our own bodies. Just three images is enough to start to tip the balance and start super negative comparisons. This isn’t just confined to women either. 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. If you follow even a small handful of people who make you feel negative about your body image.
Currently following any people online that fall into this category? Unfollow them and swap them for people who are going to inspire a more positive body image. There are tons of body positive influencers on social media.
Instagram is a big one here as quite a few studies have drawn links to unfavorable body comparisons after looking at images of either celebs or lesser known “attractive” Instagrammers with “ideal” bodies. It’s not just Instagram though - spending time on Facebook can also be linked to lower body satisfaction, according to research. Being a bit more savvy with who you follow can be a game changer for body image.
According to studies, viewing images around self-compassion on social media is pretty 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 them.
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 straight 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 minimize its less positive effects on your body image.
Join the body image revolution
Tired of the messages you see from the media every day? Join in with the fight 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.