What Has the Media Done to Our Self Image

white notebook and pen

Digging through my writing archives, I came across this little piece that was left not dated. I’m assuming it was written sometime during my junior year of high school (2003) because it’s in the “journal” format we had for homework. Ordinarily, these would be fairly trite, but I want to preserve this one in particular.

“What Has the Media Done to Our Self Image?”

I have long been fascinated by how people form their opinions of what they consider as beautiful. Each person’s sense of aesthetic is different and what one person finds beautiful, another well may not. Then again, whether we realize it or not, society puts into our minds images of how beauty is supposedly defined in our culture, especially through the media. This portrayal of beauty is changing daily. Looks go in and out. Individuality gets lost when people try to follow the trends. Being trendy is ridiculous in my opinion, especially since you can’t hang on to one persona too long. Pop culture is so fickle, and always needs a fresh look to amuse it.

Rather than let people find their own personal style, pop culture stirs up the sentiment in so many people that they need to revamp their wardrobes quite often to keep up with the fashion trends and even change their appearance dramatically to look cool. Personally, I have never cared about trends or what people think looks cool. Many people do, however. It really aggravates me, because people are letting the insecurities they’ve allowed to be exploited for the gain of industries that use them for profit. 

What really irks me is how industries make millions upon millions taking advantage of people’s insecurities. Having role models is one thing. But, when teens and adults alike buy into magazines featuring supermodels, they are not just looking for a role model; they are buying into the idea that there are models in those publications that they should emulate and look just like. Most people do it subconsciously. Of course, the media doesn’t help. Many advertisements use the fashion industry prolifically to stick “perfect” body images in the faces of everyone.

The super-models people admire, in reality, are just better than average looking people that are made to look even more beautiful than they really are just to convey an image that can be sold commercially. People in our society seem to have this omnipresent need to strive towards a perfect image. The problem is that this perfect image changes so very often. Magazine covers reflect that truth. Male and female super-models alike are constantly changing with the fashion and cosmetic markets. Personally, I find that this commercial selling of an image can be very detrimental to people’s self-image. People just cannot be satisfied with who they are and what they look like because something is always showing people a new, “cooler” way to look.

My opinion is that no one needs to be told what about them needs to change to make them beautiful. Our society commercializes super-models to the public’s insecurities. People in our society just seem to never feel that they are good-looking enough, and that they always need to try something different to improve their self-image. The problem is that in thinking they are trying to improve their self-image, they are actually avoiding it in the process. 

The fact is that most super-models deny themselves their own self-image in order to be supermodels in the first place; they have to sell themselves to whatever image the industry wants them to portray – so it’s a vicious circle. America has become such a ridiculously vain society. There is nothing wrong at all with admiring beauty, but why can’t we just accept beautiful people for who they are? Why can’t we be satisfied with the bodies we already have? Why have we become so insecure, and let our insecurities lure us into the trap of the fashion industry?

The pressure of the fashion industry and the media make people insecure of and unsatisfied with their own body image. I’m sick of it.

Well said, teenage Amelia.

~ Amelia Desertsong

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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