The media affects youths’ healthy body image

What messages are youth receiving from the media about body image and how does it affect them in the long run?

Today’s youth face a barrage of media messages explaining how they should look when it comes to body shape and form. Childhood obesity has been on the rise and hasn’t slowed its momentum, but tall and thin is in and nothing else matters. These massages make it hard for youth to really gain a true sense of healthy body image. Youth receive these massages through their phones, the Internet, television, magazines and billboards. From weight loss pills claiming to lose weight overnight, to beauty products that claim to tighten and tone skin in an instant, these are all marketing strategies that are geared towards youth to encourage them to spend money.

According to an article published in Paediatr Child Health, one in every two teenage girls and one in every four teenage boys have tried dieting to change the shape of their body. The article notes that about 33 percent of teens who are at a healthy weight diet.

It also explains that compared with teens who don’t diet, teens who do diet:

  • Are more unhappy with their weight
  • Tend to “feel fat” even if they are not
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Feel less connected to their families and schools
  • Feel less in control of their lives

These messages affect both their self-esteem and the confidence youth gain over time. One of the ways to help youth foster confidence and self-esteem is through positive reinforcement with encouragement and by teaching them what is true. We can help youth see through the marketing schemes that companies portray through these media outlets by explaining them and helping them dispel these marketing myths.

We can all help the youth of the future by promoting and modeling healthy body image. Reinforcing what a realistic body image and perception is for both boys and girls will prove to produce youth that will better understand the media intentions as well as give youth a sense of confidence in their own outward appearance.

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