October 8, 2010 Jeanne Rust

Ugly as Sin?

What can we do to begin to combat the messages we get from the media including magazines and television?

One of the ways we can protect our self-esteem and body image from the often narrow definitions of beauty and acceptability is to become a critical viewer of the messages we are bombarded with each day. Media messages about body shape affect the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves only if we let them! When we recognize and analyze the media messages that influence us, we remember that the definitions of beauty and success do not have to define our self-image or potential. We must use our creative minds to view all media with a discriminating eye. Advertisements are created to do one thing: convince you to buy or support a specific product or service. As individuals we decide how we want to experience media messages. We can choose whether we want to think or believe the message. We can use a filter that protects our self-esteem and body image.

  1. When you see an ad or hear a message that makes you feel bad about yourself, your body, or others by promoting only thin, formulaic body ideals, talk back to the TV and advertiser by writing a letter.
  2. Make a list of companies who consistently send negative body image messages and make a conscious effort to avoid buying their products.
  3. Write them a letter explaining why you are using your buying power to protest their messages.
  4. Get your friends and/or students at your school or work to join you. There is power in a grass-roots movement.
  5. You can tear out the ads you find offensive and send them to the advertiser with the message: I do not want them.
  6. Consumers have much more influence with corporations than we realize. Corporations are so competitive with each other in today's world as they fight to get our attention. They have to be flexible and responsive so just a few people raising their voices can make a huge difference. We can look upon this as seed planting. Our seeds will sprout and grow. it might take some time but we can make a beginning in changing our culture!