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Body Image

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The media's influence

Our world is flooded with messages in the media about how we should look, act, dress, think and believe. Without alternative role models that challenge the media stereotype, we are often left with just the media’s messages of how we should look and be.

Some of these messages include:

  • There is an ‘ideal body type’ that everyone should strive for
  • There is an ‘ideal beautiful’ and if you don’t look like that you are not beautiful
  • Girls must be feminine and guys must be masculine
  • The most important thing is to look good

These messages can affect how we feel about ourselves from the minute we get up to the minute we fall asleep … if we let it!

We have to wise up and challenge the media stereotype, embrace diversity, choose our own role models and embrace our own uniqueness.


Challenging the body image ideal

Things you and your friends can do: 

  • Challenge the messages you give to yourself. Would you judge your friends and family by the same standards you judge yourself?
  • Think critically of the media. Remember often advertising campaigns are designed to make you feel bad about how you look so that you go buy their product. Don’t buy into it.
  • Challenge people’s focus on appearance. Don’t rate people out of 10, don’t whistle or talk about being hot or not. See them for who they are not what they look like.
  • Show respect and don't judge. Show respect for people of different shapes, sizes, abilities, and appearance. You don’t know their journey, so be respectful and don’t judge.
  • Remind yourself of positives. Write a list of the things you love about yourself – inside and out. Stick it on your mirror and add to it.
  • Celebrate! Celebrate International No Diet day (6th of May) and Body Image Awareness week (1st – 8th September).
  • Join your school’s Youth Health Council. YHCs discuss issues like body image, media literacy, healthy eating, fitness and nutrition at school and find ways to raise awareness to other students. If your school doesn’t have a YHC and you think it should, click here for more info.
  • Create awareness. Hold a Body Image awareness day at your school, with a bake sale, special guests, a talent quest or a photo competition!
  • Set goals not rules. Do you set rigid rules for yourself and have unreachable expectations? Make sure your goals are SMART and about more than just weight.
  • Focus on feeling better rather than looking better. Eat nutritious food, go for a walk and drink lots of water with the aim of having more energy and better health!
  • Set a good example. Celebrate your own uniqueness by rocking your personal style and attitude. Dance, swim, wear shorts and singlets (if you want), and enjoy a picnic – whatever size or shape you are.
  • Love those around you for who they are. Write down how you see your best friend and send it to them as a little ‘thank you’ message for who they are.

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