While you’re reading this post through a screen on a digital media platform, we need to talk about how to protect yourself from this ‘media’. It’s time to stop feeling bad about ourselves and degrading our sense of self-worth because someone else wants us to feel like we aren’t good enough.
If you’re contemplating whether media (be it social media, i.e., Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, or traditional media, i.e., TV advertisements, music, film, or TV shows) really distorts your view on beauty and makes you feel bad about yourself, here’s a test for you. Out of the following five questions, if you answer ‘yes’ to at least one, the media is negatively affecting your self-worth and self-love.
- Does seeing celebrity posts, especially of female celebrities if you’re a woman, make you feel the need to make changes to your appearance?
2. Do you often use Snapchat filters because they make you look more ‘polished’ ,and you prefer that over your real face?
3. Do you often think about makeup ads and believe that these products can enhance your beauty?
4. Is following celebrities ,and matching up to their fitness level, an aspiration for you?
5. Do social media posts make you want to lose weight , or go to the gym to look more like the people you see?
Now take note of all your ‘yes’ answers. If you’ve said ‘yes’ to even one of these, we must address this issue.
While self-worth and self-love are hard for all genders, the media focuses especially on creating an idealized version of beauty for women. This way, businesses can profit off the insecurities of women and have them consumed by physical appearance to distract them from reaching their true potential. If you want to explore the detrimental effects of media on the self-worth and self-love of women, especially in the United States, please watch the documentary called Missrepresentation currently streaming on Netflix.
There’s no need for statistics or extensive research to really understand the beauty standard women are being subconsciously told to succumb to. As a woman, your feed is probably filled with pictures of other women with their eyebrows done, makeup done, face completely changed and perhaps even with filters used. As a man, you might also see pictures of men focused on fitness solely for aesthetic purposes and comments praising this body type.
While everyone can do whatever makes them happy, you need to know that this is not an expectation you need to meet. Don’t like makeup? No need to wear it. Tired of constantly comparing yourself to models and fitness influencers? Don’t. All a person really needs to be healthy is a moderate amount of exercise and a healthy diet. Generally, aim for at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity ,three times a week.
Most importantly, turn the TV off when you see ads selling you makeup or products that make you feel like you aren’t good enough. Don’t buy magazines and look at celebrity gossip. Do occasional social media detox periods where you temporarily shut down social media accounts and are more present in your real life. Refrain from following celebrities and influencers whose sole purpose is to make you conform to one body type.
Follow meaningful people such as writers, activists, artists and other professionals instead. Watch movies and TV shows with a conscious mind. Remind Yourself that TV isn’t the real world with real people.
You are real. You are beautiful. And you deserve self-love.