How Media Affects Teen Body Image

The media depict unrealistic body images that bombard television screens, movie theatres, magazines, Internet, and billboards. Having a healthy body image is becoming a difficult task.

Many factors influence body image from media to family and friends. People view themselves differently from year to year, and from culture to culture. The values and morals of a given society play a vital role in body image.


The media shape the concept of body image, changing it every so often. The voluptuous notion of perfection once held by starlets like Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe has been replaced by the ludicrously thin supermodels of today.

The Internet and the proliferation of technology have contributed to the endless lambasting of ideals thrown upon the impressionable minds of youth. Teens are subjected to innumerable advertisements per day, featuring models that are ‘perfect’, either with unattainable weight control, sultry sex appeal, gravity-defying bosoms, or ridiculously muscular men with steel pistons for arms and abs that could halt traffic.

The main concern with this method of advertisement is that teens are led to believe that they should look like this in order to be successful or happy. Teens need to have a healthy body image in order to have self-confidence that can guide them through the turbulence of the teen years. When a teen cannot achieve the body image presented by the media, feelings of inadequacy and negativity may creep in, resulting in potential health concerns such as anorexia or bulimia.

A negative body image is detrimental to your self-esteem. Teens need to feel good about themselves every day. The media portrays scenarios that are not feasible or plausible to many teens, so it is imperative that parents help their teens to overcome any feelings of inadequacy.

*Dispel Myths

Parents can help their teens to dispel the myths of the media by pointing out that the images they see have been digitally altered to minimize flaws. The body images shown are rare. Take your child to a busy shopping mall or sporting event and sit and watch passersby. Point out that most people look differently than the media images they are shown, and point out the positive aspects of people.

Physical appearances change over time. People that may seem beautiful and perfect now will change as the years pass, and then what is left is on the inside. This is where true beauty lies, deep within a person.

Teach your teens to revel in the things that their bodies are capable of doing, such as running, kicking, lifting, throwing, and that their bodies are the vessels that will take them wherever it is that they are going.

*Encourage Positive Thoughts

Help your teen to feel good about themselves by making sure they are well-rested, well-nourished, well-exercised, and well-dressed. Let them be confident in these regards by allowing them to exercise control over these aspects.

Avoid negative scenarios such as weighing themselves or comparing themselves to other people. Love your teen for who they are and role model positive examples. The media has far more exposure to your teen, so parents have to work diligently to combat this factor.

*Nurture a Healthy Body Image

Parents can help teens with their body image by focusing on the healthier aspects of daily life, such as eating healthy instead of dieting, and exercising regularly. Avoid negative things such as skilled events that may harm their self-esteem.

Talk to your teens about their body image. Focus on the accomplishments that the body is capable of, and give examples that contradict the media; Babe Ruth is a sporting legend, but his body was not the same as the typical baseball player of today. These sorts of examples can help your teen to understand that people are capable of doing whatever they put their mind to, and that there are not looks criteria for achievements.

The media are everywhere, and teens cannot avoid seeing advertisements featuring certain body images. With guidance from parents, teens can feel good about themselves, and can take those images with a grain of salt.