Self Image/Media Influences
Teens are barraged with a constant stream of media and peer pressures related to body image. The media tells them their value is based on their outward appearance. Society tells them that they must be thinner or more muscular to be loved, accepted and successful in life. We tell them that beauty is more than skin deep. Book a speaker for your student assembly to empower your students to look beyond the media’s view of beauty and not fall into the traps of eating disorders and negative body image.
Read Don’t Buy the Lie for former Armani runway model Jennifer Strickland’s message on how the media attacks girls’ body image.
Media, social 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. Self image issues can lead to eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, cutting, bullying and sexual addictions.
Studies prove that media can have a negative impact on self image. TV, movies, magazines and the internet all bombard teens with images and pressures about what their bodies should look like. The problem is, their version isn’t realistic. These images are air-brushed versions of models who weigh 23% 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.
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 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.
The Facts about Self Image
- 40% of all 9 and 10-year-old girls have already been on a diet – Duke University
- 70% of 6-12-year-olds want to be thinner – National Eating Disorders Association
- In one study, 3 out of 4 women stated that they were overweight although only 1 out of 4 actually were
- While only one out of ten high school girls are overweight, nine out of ten high school juniors and seniors diet
- A study found that adolescent girls were more fearful of gaining weight than getting cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents
- Teen pregnancy statistics show that girls who engage in unprotected sex often have lower self esteem – Family First Aid
The Facts about Media Influence on body image
- 69% of girls in 5th – 12th grades reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- Following the viewing of images of female fashion models, seven out of ten women felt more depressed and angrier than prior to viewing the images
- 80% of women who answered a People magazine survey responded that images of women on television and in the movies make them feel insecure
- The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- An average US woman is 5’4” tall weighing 140 pounds; the average US model is 5’11” weighing 117 pounds – West Virginia Dept of Education
The Facts about teens and Eating Disorders
- 90% of people with eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25 – Family First Aid
- Over half of teenage girls and a third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are woman’s diseases – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness – National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- Studies indicate that 50% of those who have anorexia nervosa later develop bulimia nervosa – National Alliance on Mental Illness
What we do
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 negative body image.
Former runway model Jennifer Strickland gives incredibly powerful and life changing programs for students about the unrealistic expectations the fashion industry places on body image. She talks about how media influences can damage teens’ self image. She encourages both boys and girls to shift their focus away from how they don’t measure up to the images in the media, and instead focus on building up their strengths and being happy with who they are. For more information on Jennifer and her programs, visit her speaker page.