One of the TORCH Peer Education workshops that are offered to outside teens are Body Image and Self-Esteem and in their workshop they focus a lot on loving your own body and not comparing it to those you see in the media.
Photoshopped, altered, and even enhanced pictures have been made the mainstream into Facebook, Twitter, and every other social network requiring a “main pic”. Now a days, it easy to cover imperfections, flaws, and increase a butt size in just one click. There has be a recent increase in photos that have been in altered in some shape or form as the only pictures that make it on to social networking sites. This change is mainly due to fears of being ostracized for not having near perfect beauty. The media, also has a lot to do with this new trend. Can you ever think of a time where Media doesn’t influence our teens?
The effects of mainstream media are seemingly undetectable, in a sense where you no longer consciously acknowledge that media plays a determining role in the decisions we make. Society is intertwined with external normals, that media is often time consider the outlet to theses societal beliefs. The media is what gets the word out on what is “new”, “hot”, “trending”, and “popular”.
Working with teens for almost 5 years, I can tell that ideas about self-esteem and body image have changed dramatically. And we would not be grammatically correct, if we were not to point the fingers at main stream media. Granted, cultural ideas and beliefs, along with personal values, morals, and critiques play a role in determining the way a teen feels about his or her self. However, reality is that mainstream media contributes largely in shaping those ideas behind self-esteem and body image traits. Westernized societies and a more non-egalitarian society, has both the uneven distribution of wealth and beauty. You are probably wondering, “Now the hell is beauty uneven distributed?” Would you argue that some are in fact prettier than others? In reality, yes that is true. But, what we neglect to comprehend is the idea behind accepting this thought of unevenly distributed beauty.
OK so, some are Photoshopped pictures or elastically altered bodies and faces (sorry Joann Rivers – your faced popped up in my head first!) and others are naturally beautiful, but the core concept behind this main stream media image of “beauty” is that there only exist one perfect role.
This is why, the work that the TORCH teens do surround body-image and self-esteem is paramount in their mission to help teens develop into well-rounded individuals. In my own concept of self-esteem and body image, yes, I’ve had my share of incidents while growing up. I was a victim, first hand, of being bullied because of my weight. I still remember the nick names, the funny faces, the rude comments, and the boys that always rejected my “Do you like me” notes in class. But I took that attitude, and converted into energy. I told myself that I was going to feel good in my own skin, but at the same time finds way to be healthy.
After years of struggling with my weight, I found a weight-loss program that works for me, I exercise regularly, I drink lots of what, I eat healthy, and I love my body. This new attitude has taken years to shape, however, having other teens tell you its okay to be who you are, would have definitely helped me when I was teen.
I really do appreciate the work the TORCH teens have done thus far, and I hope they continue to change lives everyday. If you want to read more about mainstream media and altered images on Facebook, read the “You Look So Different on Facebook” post on Adios Barbie.