Self-esteem – how you feel about yourself. Self-image – how you see yourself. Teen girls hear these terms over and over. They know they shouldn’t look to the media to define who they are or let it affect how they see themselves. They know they shouldn’t let what they see on TV, in magazines, and every other possible media outlet influence their self-esteem. But they can’t help it. It’s hard even for adults. We all know better. But think about a girl who grows up in a family that constantly tells her she’s worthless and not good enough. She will gradually internalize those lies and grow up believing them, right? In the same way, think about a girl who grows up in a media culture that incessantly and loudly tells her she should try to be like these models and perfect images she sees everywhere around her, even though she’ll never be good enough to match them. Won’t she eventually believe it?
It’s a shame that so many of the shows, movies, music videos, and especially advertisements portray an ideal to teen girls that they can never live up to. We’ve all heard of the way photos are polished up to remove wrinkles, flabbiness, blemishes, and other imperfections. I’m glad that things like that are being exposed more and more now. Letting girls know the perfection they see isn’t attainable, that it’s most likely fake, helps them to see through the smoke in the mirror to the truth. However, that doesn’t stop the subconscious internalization of the lie that perfection is normal. Like we talked before about how constantly seeing sexual things in the media makes it seem normal, constantly seeing girls who look perfect in the media makes that seem normal as well.
We need to always remind girls, as well as ourselves, that the media is full of lies. They use gorgeous and skinny actresses in movies and shows to attract people to watch them, and they use the same types of models to sell products. The thought is, if they can make a girl feel insecure enough about herself by forcing her to compare herself to these models, she will buy the product with the false hopes that it will improve her or make her better in some way. Girls need to be regularly reminded that they are good enough. That God made them beautiful the way they are. That they shouldn’t compare themselves to anyone but the ideal God has created for them to be. And if they aren’t reaching that ideal yet, God can help them get there. That goal is in no means unattainable.
I will say that I think our culture has become a little better about being aware of these media techniques and has been working on ads and other messages that promote girls being themselves and having a positive and realistic self-image. I’m happy about the way things are headed. But we still have a long ways to go.
*****As always, please post any comments you’d like to add on this topic. I’d love to share your thoughts with the girls on Thursday! Also, any media examples (good or bad) or Bible verses on this topic would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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