Self-Esteem and Media Influences

Self-Esteem and Media Influences

How does media affect body image negatively?

Empower students to say YES to self-acceptance and no to unhealthy body image

More than ever, teens today are saturated with a constant stream of media and societal pressures related to body image. The media and social media have created a world that makes teens believe their self-worth is solely based on their outward appearance. How does media affect body image negatively? Society tells them that they must be thinner or more muscular to be loved, accepted and successful in life. As parents and educators, it is vital to instill in our kids that beauty is more than skin deep; educating them to look beyond the media’s view of beauty and not fall into the traps of eating disorders and unhealthy body image.

Fast Facts

According to

  • Over 70 percent of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks
  • About 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood
  • Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they’ve ended up regretting later
  • 38 percent of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and nearly 6 percent admitted to experimenting with steroids
  • 75 percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating


Media, social media and peer pressures influence the way teens see themselves. Their mental perception of what they look like can become distorted, leading them to engage in risk behaviors when they feel they don’t measure up to the impossible goal set in front of them. Media’s effect on body image can cause self-image issues which can lead to eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, cutting, bullying and sexual risk behaviors.

Media Influence

Social media influencers, celebrities, TV, movies, magazines and the internet all bombard teens with images and pressures about what their bodies should look like. The problem is these versions of “beauty” are not obtainable because they aren’t realistic. The majority of images are air-brushed versions of models who weigh 23 percent less than the average woman. Nevertheless, millions of teens believe the lies and resort to unhealthy measures to try to fit themselves into that impossible mold.

Anorexia Nervosa

Those with anorexia suffer from a perception disorder called body dysmorphia. When they look at themselves, they think they look overweight. They severely restrict the amount of food they allow themselves to eat and often exercise excessively. This pattern can be life-threatening.

Warning signs: underweight, refusal to eat, over-exercise, unhealthy skin, hair and nails.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is usually more difficult to detect than anorexia. Bulimics tend to be a normal weight or even overweight. They attempt to control weight through purging or fasting. This usually comes after a period of binge-eating where they consume large amounts of food in a short time. While binge-eating, they feel out of control and will use fasting, exercise, induced vomiting or laxatives to regain control over their weight.

Warning signs: weight fluctuations, over-exercise, sneaking food, unhealthy skin, hair and nails.

What We Do at Just Say YES

Just Say YES speakers provide insight and relate personal experience to help students combat the pressures of conforming to a certain body image. Self-Image programs offer encouragement and support for students dealing with eating disorders and other body image related risk behaviors. Learn more about how Just Say YES can empower your students to say YES to self-acceptance and no to unhealthy body image by contacting us today at

Just Say YES Self-Image/Media Influence Speakers