How can media affect kids' body image?

Media of all kinds, from TV to magazines and more, can impact body image, just as those closest to us, from our parents to our peers, also can.

When the media celebrates certain types of behaviors and appearances, it can leave a strong impression on kids, shaping their ideas of what will make them popular, attractive, and happy (or the opposite: unpopular, unattractive, and unhappy). How often are characters with larger body types, for example, portrayed in movies in romantic situations compared to thin characters? Kids may compare their own appearances to those of celebrities, models, animated TV characters, or toys -- body shapes that may be unrealistic or just plain unattainable. This kind of comparison can lead to body shame and low body esteem, which can lead to serious behaviors.

It's also important to remember that kids today not only are consumers of media but also are active creators. This presents both opportunities and pitfalls. On one hand, kids may grapple with how to present themselves online and manage their online appearances, or they may find themselves comparing the way they look to how their friends look, or they may get a boost of confidence from friends' reactions to their personal photos. On the other hand, kids may see friends, celebrities, and others who use online media to challenge harmful stereotypes about appearance ideals.

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Comments

Teen, 15 years old written by 00skid

I was always wondering why I was never affected by this (even though I was not treated kindly due to my petite size) but now I understand why. Why would anyone let media decide their lives in the first place?
Teen, 13 years old written by mavrc31027

The media basically controls peoples minds, especially teenagers. They make everyone think that you have to be skinny and full of plastic to be beautiful, handsome, ect.
Adult written by RettCosmos

It is a very good thing to have a clean, handsome or beautiful appearance. It's very desirable. Some people know how to attain that the correct and healthy way. That is done through liking yourself for who you are, for your own body type, personality, hair color, eye color, etc. The things that make you YOU. Enhancing your own natural beauty is good, if done with the good intention of representing your best self. It is a concern that some messages in media are portraying that there is only one body type or face structure or look that is beautiful. We see only that type in magazines, advertisements, and images in clothing stores. Many people seek that image for themselves and seek it in order to feel like they fit in or belong. They feel they have to appear and be what society is asking for. They feel they won't fit in or have as much value if they don't have that portrayed body image. That is damaging and can lead to severe emotional/mental issues.
Teen, 16 years old written by Sir Darry Koenig

I really like your answer. I agree with you. I think that a lot of children should learn how to love themselves and enhance their own beauty. See that they're unique and they're beautiful in many different ways. I really like parents that help their children represent their personalities.
Parent of a 7 and 7 year old written by PrettyFlower

I don't think we should aspire to be pretty or handsome. For whom? To whom? To please somebody? Who? Everything these days is about image, what do I look like, will they think I look nice? In my opinion, it's far more important to be happy with ourselves, to know how to use our brains, and to be the best we can be, learn how to respect others for everything they are, not for their looks.