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Old 07-17-2011, 05:17 PM
Mr. Tadakichi United States Mr. Tadakichi is offline
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Body image and the media

I did a search on this topic within ZU and found a similar thread from over a year ago, however I decided to make a new thread since I'm asking slightly different questions. I hope that's alright with you.

Despite the expanding body image pressure that the media creates, which goes hand in hand with an increasing variety of surgical means to make the unnatural into the newest ideal, many say they are happy with, or don't care much about, how they look as long as they are healthy. I am all for that, and good for you, but unfortunately not all of us have that confidence. Some develop eating disorders and/or other issues connected with low self esteem.

Media is all around us. How can we raise and educate our children, or future children to best avoid the body image trap?

I am also very interested in hearing from those of you who have lived a life with a terrible body image but somehow managed to reach a level of sustainable confidence. If you exist then I think you are rare and of great value to this discussion! How in the world did you manage?
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:24 PM
Golddron Sex Golddron Sex is a male United States Golddron Sex is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

Well, I used to have really low self esteem because I have some crooked teeth, and an underbite. But I guess I just realized that it truly is what you think of yourself that matters. If you have enough confidence in yourself, nobody can touch you.
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:32 PM
brokenjoker Sweden brokenjoker is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

Hmm, I'm not sure if I can add anything super serious to this discussion, but I'll try anyways.

To begin, I'll start off by saying how I would raise my children to understand body image and it's value (I guess you could say). I would start off by just showing them unconditional love, and teaching them to unconditionally love those around them; maybe teach them that, if at all possible, they should maintain a healthy look physically, mentally, and emotionally, but I would still love tem regardless. I guess it just goes with the amount of love you show a child and how much confidence you put into them. I find that the more confident a person is, it just shines physically on them, and you can see that by how they walk, talk, dress, whatever.

I struggle with confidence but I'm way better than what I used to be. You should just surround yourself with people that are willing to succeed and believe that they can. You should start telling yourself that too. Don't surround yourself with losers that just whine and complain about everything and never do anything to change it - it takes an effect on you, especially if it's something you've been around since you were a child.

16+ years of psychological mind building is hard to rewire, folks! (But you should do your best to make yourself feel and act like a better person.)

Something like that anyways!
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:50 PM
Primus Primus is a male Primus is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

While the body image marketing may be a trap in certain occasions, i believe there are some positives from promoting a bodily ideal. Lots of kids who normally aren't athletic actually end up working out a little bit.

Unfortunately , body image ideals can lead to eating and mental issues.

For myself, i accepted that i would never look perfect, but i do the best i could to maintain my body image. I eat healthy, i work-out, i stay active, and i try to stay hygienic as possible.

But in the end, personality and will usually trump the bod .
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:30 PM
Sgt. Pepper Sgt. Pepper is a male Togo Sgt. Pepper is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

The media really gives you this idea that you have to be perfect. And I personally think that if the standards for singers and celebrities were as high as they are now back then, then many of the artists that we love wouldn't be famous, which is quite sad. I'm not really for the "perfect" body image, but it's right to take care of yourself and keep yourself in shape. It's not right for someone to be 500 pounds. Not because it's unpleasant to look at, but because it's unhealthy for that person. I don't judge, because I had a traumatic housefire a few years back and that led me to begin eating a lot and I gained a bit of weight back then and it doesn't feel all too well to be on the other side of judgment. And you really shouldn't judge people by their appearances. All of my friends are ugly, but they are the coolest people you'll probably ever meet. So really, it's not great to judge someone's appearance.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:36 AM
xTama United States xTama is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

... I have a horrible body image.. How did I manage? Well, I broke all my mirrors. With my face.
Jk, I think my image is alright.. I'm a little self concious but still.

Anyhow...I don't know how exactly I'm supposed to follow that ^ ...but in a world where poverty, easily accessible fast food, and extensive day and night time jobs rule, fitting into the media ideal of a women or man can be very difficult indeed, if not impossible for the majority of the world's population. Excuses for not interevening their own endless cycle of overeating, binging and insane malnourishing dieting also reign over people seeking a perfectly divine body to match the ones in photoshopped magazines. Non-celebrity people feel incredible pressure to be thin like the media people who are thin for a living. They've been trained to believe that perfection equals a happy life, wealth, health, fame and fortune and all that jazz. People are driven mad trying to accomplish goals and dreams that don't nearly match their lifestyles. Some even die trying. People choose to suffer and punish themselves if they aren't perfect, and have guilt trips just by glancing at so much as a pie. In one recent study, Americans who were supposed to say one word to describe what comes to mind when they are presented with a cake say 'guilt', while French people answered 'celebration'. That right there says a lot about our food-obsessed nation. No wonder so many people have suffering body images, especially developing teenagers facing so much of the 'real' cruel world out there.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:40 AM
kezzer kezzer is a male United States kezzer is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

I used to be the cookie-cutter personality of someone harmfully affected by media and body image expectations. I hated my body more than anything, I forced myself to throw up everyday because I thought it would help. I often was called "fat" and other mean names by my peers and various internet trollers. I was thirteen, so I really took it seriously. I wasn't actually fat at that time but I saw fat, lots and lots of it because I wasn't perfectly thin like models are.
I wish I could change things. It seems pretty obvious that society only values the thinnest and most beautiful people, and anyone who isn't perfect and beautiful is some sort of lesser being and not worthy of a happy existence.

But now I kind of see it different. I prefer imperfections in people. I can't help but find perfectly sculpted man bods simply disgusting. I got past my bad phase of self hatred, I've learned to love myself and my body. Maybe too much, I've gotten pretty cocky. But it works for me. I tell myself and tell other people yeah, I'm hot. I look great! The good, positive thoughts have seemed to alter the universe. And suddenly, the world isn't attacking me anymore. Someone else's idea of perfect isn't an issue to me, it's just another stupid thing that I ignore.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the media portrayal of perfect can be very, very harmful. But only if you're a shallow idiot as much as I was. If people are going to be obsessed with appearance, then they're people just not worth your time or thoughts and are best to just ignore.
How do we avoid our children falling into this trap? I don't know. Let's try sterilizing all the stupid, shallow people in the world. Not gonna work? Well. I don't know then. There will always people willing to do ridiculous stuff to look better.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:41 AM
Krysila Krysila is a female United Kingdom Krysila is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

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Originally Posted by kezzer View Post
I used to be the cookie-cutter personality of someone harmfully affected by media and body image expectations. I hated my body more than anything, I forced myself to throw up everyday because I thought it would help. I often was called "fat" and other mean names by my peers and various internet trollers. I was thirteen, so I really took it seriously. I wasn't actually fat at that time but I saw fat, lots and lots of it because I wasn't perfectly thin like models are.
I'm really sorry to hear that you had to go through something like that - no one deserves to feel that way about themselves.

I'm a pretty good example of what 'hating your body' can do to you. I'm not going to lie - during my second year of high school I developed Anorexia because I was bullied for being fat and ugly. Although I wasn't obese by any standard, I was slightly chubby and what with this image of 'size zero' being considered 'perfect' by a lot of people, I became obsessed and ended up losing 25kgs in the space of 2 months, becoming dangerously ill.

Four years on, I still struggle with my body image. I've reach a healthier weight, but I still have some way to go. What I've learned is that what you see in the mirror isn't what everyone else sees - you zone in on your own imperfections and become obsessed with fixing them, but I know now that no matter how much weight I lose, I'm never going to consider myself 'perfect', there's always going to be something I'm unhappy with.

If someone was going through a similar problem, I would tell them to open up to those close to them. People often make comments like, 'Well you practically disappear when you turn sideways!' or 'You're like a waif, you'd never be able to lift that!' and I've realised that while I see extra weight on myself that I would like to shed, to everyone else I'm thin. Having opened up to a few of my friends, while I was nervous at first, it has helped to no end. They have made me realise that being as thin as possible does not equate to beauty, and for the first time in years I realise that I do need to gain a little more weight and I'm not scared to do so.

Knowing what it is like to go through something like that, I would never want my children to experience the same thing. I would raise them to love themselves as they are, and yes, I probably will provide mostly healthy meals for them - but I wouldn't ban junk food every now and then if they wanted it. I think the main problem with me is that I was quite skinny as a kid, and then once I hit my teens I just ploughed through junk food daily and put on a lot of weight. My parents never stopped me, even though I was clearly gaining a lot of weight, and although they cooked healthy meals, they still allowed me to constantly eat in between meals.

I can't ban my future children from reading magazines and spending time with people who are stick thin, but I can tell them that it is beauty on the inside that counts, and that you don't have to be thin to be attractive or make friends, etc.

(Sorry, insanely long response. >_<)
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:58 PM
Fluttershy Fluttershy is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

Few things irk me more than commercials for wieghtloss where the person trying to lose weight honestly would do themselves a favor to gain weight. Eating disorders are increasing and the media plays a much bigger role in that than most other things. On the other end of the spectrum, you have movies and shows where someone finds their soul mate and it's love at first sight. People set their expectations far too high and divorce rates are climbing as a result.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:00 AM
Ruki Ruki is a female United States Ruki is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

Quote:
People often make comments like, 'Well you practically disappear when you turn sideways!' or 'You're like a waif, you'd never be able to lift that!'
I've heard those plenty of times. And "Do your parents feed you?" Because apparently high metabolism doesn't exist in this world. Seriously, for the first half of my life people thought my parents weren't feeding me, I had some sort of eating disorder, etc. all because I was skinny. It got frustrating (and awkward) to explain every time that wasn't the case at all only to be met with careful skeptic looks.

Luckily that stopped for the most part, but it still does happen from time to time. I mean there was this one time when one of my friends I hadn't known for a long time joked I had to be anorexic or something because of how skinny I am. I practically snarled at the person I wasn't I was so angry. (And I'm incredibly hard to anger, so they were shocked.) I mean I got angry not just because people were teasing me about my weight (I had accepted the fact I was going to get questioned and more or less hated because of my weight-or lack of therefore. I learned a curt explanation of high metabolism shuts them up after another two sentences.), but because they had joked about eating disorders. One of the few things that set me off is when people joke about that because I'm touchy about it because I've been accused of it in the past and I know it does happen (as some other people on this forum have mentioned) and it's no laughing matter.

Sorry bout that, mini rant over. Feel more then free to ignore that top half up there. I just get really worked up about these kinds of things. -.-;;

But on topic, I'm actually quite fine who I am as a person. I never really had self-confidence issues towards myself, just frustrations. Like, I never worried about my weight (after all I knew I was underweight because people always felt the need to remind me of it every single time they saw me), but I hated communicating with people because nobody could understand me. There was literally nothing wrong with my speech (I've went to two speech pathologists who said so) and the reason people can't understand me is because I speak too fast. And I mumble and jump around in my stories. Having to repeat what you are saying 3 or 4 times in a row got frustrating so I just gave up speaking in general. However, luckily for me in 5th grade I made friends who refused to let me say next to nothing. So now I have a better time communicating with people, and I fixed most of my speech problems on my own as long as I remember to keep calm and think about what I'm going to say.

Another thing which frustrates me is that my mom cares about what everyone thinks so everything I saw, do or act is up to scrutiny. Like I wasn't allowed to wear my favorite graphic tees (which were all Zelda except for a Fullmetal Alchemist and a Bleach one) within the first month of school because she didn't want my teachers to think I was some sort of weirdo. Which lets face it, compared to everyone else I sort of was. Still am.

I personally don't believe this a good way to raise a child. My mom was pretty much forcing me to worry about what others thought of me and it pisses her off to no end that I have the attitude of "I don't really give a d**n what you think." She keeps on worrying that people will pick on me because I like playing video games, I like reading manga and watching anime, I like J-pop, I like all these "dorky" things. And you know what, they have in the past and probably will in the future. But that is no reason to live hiding in shame for who I am from the public just because it's not "cool." I'm not doing anything wrong, so what do I got to hide?

Personally I think kids need to be raised with self confidence. They shouldn't be hidden from the fact that they will be picked on by other people (whether it be kids or adults) for things they like or don't like. They should be taught though to stand up tall and be proud about who they are even if it's not "cool" because there are other people out there who likes the same things as you.

As for eating, I think they should be encouraged to find things which make up a balanced diet that they like. Experiment. After you don't know what you like until you try it. I don't think kids should have their calories or carbs counted because to me that's just ridiculous. What they should be taught is moderation. Like if you want to eat all those cookies you BETTER be tearing around outside and rolling in the mud later. ...I prolly wouldn't be greatest person to go to about eating right, but this is just my opinion.

But if my kid ever came to me about not feeling secure about his or her body because of something on TV I would tell them it's all a grand conspiracy to make him/her to feel bad about himself/herself so they can sell you their products and that they shouldn't listen to them. And if it was a person bullying them I would explain that the person just feels inadequate about themselves so they are taking it out them and there is no reason they should be insecure about themselves just because the bully is or not. Of course this is easier said unless you are like me and go out and continue to be who you are if anything to spite the person mocking you.

I really hope that my ramblings made sense and followed the question. Besides the mini-rant.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:43 AM
Nyook Nyook is a male Canada Nyook is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

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I've heard those plenty of times. And "Do your parents feed you?" Because apparently high metabolism doesn't exist in this world. Seriously, for the first half of my life people thought my parents weren't feeding me, I had some sort of eating disorder, etc. all because I was skinny. It got frustrating (and awkward) to explain every time that wasn't the case at all only to be met with careful skeptic looks.

You don't know how many times that's happened to me, even from people who are skinnier than me! People who weigh a lot less than me, too. One time someone said I was sooooo skinny, and I told him "Dude, you're 20 pounds lighter than me... what are you talking about?" "Yeah well you're 2 inches taller than me!"

*facepalm*

It also is so annoying how people get so offended if you say ANYTHING that's calling them even slightly overweight, yet THOSE SAME PEOPLE make fun of you day and night about "how skinny you are". Holy f***, it pisses me off to no end.
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:44 PM
Pilaf Pilaf is a male United States Pilaf is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

Body image is something I struggle with and I can't really explain why. I was never one to listen to the media and follow what it tends to say about how men are supposed to look. I never heard someone make fun of me for being fat or ugly or having long hair or somewhat yellow teeth, no one's ever blatantly made fun of me over my body (well height yes but I can't control that so it doesn't phase me), and I have plenty of supportive friends who compliment me on how I look or what people view me as.

I still can't shake the feeling that I'm just plain ugly. I feel like I'm fat because all of my friends are skinny or muscular, I feel like my physical features make me look unattractive because people like every other guys' looks better, and I see things in other people I just feel like I don't have. Something as simple as who I hang out with makes me feel worse/better about myself.

Throughout middle school I was always made fun of for my personality though; I rarely ever question who I am in that respect save for a few times when people have told me some blemishes that make me annoying or obnoxious or whatever. But somehow people making fun of who I was on the inside made me feel bad about my outer appearance. It sucks to keep thinking people dislike the way I look, and as confident as I get staring at myself in the mirror after making myself look good to go see some friends, I get out of my house and I'm already paranoid people think I'm gross.

Personally, the media's image for men and women makes me sick. Not every guy in the world is tall, tan and muscular with blazing blue eyes and jet black hair, and not every girl has perfect curves and a magic proportion of every physical trait from breasts to hips to their legs and even small things on their face. People shouldn't have to see images of a certain body type every day and commercials that use people who aren't necessarily "attractive" by some "standards" make me regain some faith in mass media.

My parents raised me not to care what others think. My friends and their families have taught me not to be so self conscience because everything I say about myself is apparently wrong. If I had a child, I would never force him/her to look or act a certain way. I would teach them that no one can ever tell you what to be or what to look like because it's not their place. People telling you one thing for any amount of time and not letting up on it will leave a lasting impact on them, good or bad. Negative things seed more quickly than good things, and that's one of the bigger problems with children these days. Barbie dolls and GI Joes (I think they still have those) can leave an impression on children whose minds are easily manipulated, and minds are easily manipulated at a young age.

Basically what I'm saying is the following: The media's basic portrayals of men and women in commercials and on other forms of mass communication can often be disgusting, whether they be promoting a skinny super model body or a muscular body builder type person, often because these are unachievable. Before a child is 15, whatever conditioning they receive then is going to stick with them and it's a parents job to make sure they raise a child to be healthy physically and mentally. It's never alright for someone to be put down by their classmates or peers, and some of these words can leave people begging for a perfect body over the rest of their lives.
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:55 AM
Ruki Ruki is a female United States Ruki is offline
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Re: Body image and the media

Quote:
It also is so annoying how people get so offended if you say ANYTHING that's calling them even slightly overweight, yet THOSE SAME PEOPLE make fun of you day and night about "how skinny you are". Holy f***, it pisses me off to no end.
Yes! Someone who understands!
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