In the beginning of October, we blogged about how the French Parliament was trying to pass a law stating that published images must have a bold face notice saying if they are digitally enhanced. It got us to thinking about the sorts of images that teens are exposed to every day in magazines and television shows. How are they affected by it? What sort of pressure are teens under in order to obtain “perfection”?
Here, guest blogger Tynaya, a 17-year-old youth advisor for Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center for Young Women’s Health, lets us know what she thinks.
Ever wonder how the media affects how teens feel about themselves? Ever wonder how anything, for that matter, affects how teens feel about themselves? I think it is a common misconception that teens are only affected by their peers. A teen’s self-esteem is impacted by everything around them, from school to boys to media and beyond.
We can start off the day with our self-esteem at 100 percent and, at the end of the day, it can be at 0. The slightest thing can make us think twice about our body image. Just walking around the halls of our schools can be a self-esteem death sentence. From comments like, “aren’t those shoes from last season?” to “look at the way she walks,” adolescents are blind to the fact that their comments influence the self-esteem of others. But in addition to influences from school, some of us have family that can make us feel unworthy. If we don’t do the dishes right, we’re considered lazy, if our room isn’t spic-and-span, we’re slobs. The foundation for self-esteem is built at an early age and influenced by the environment around you. If one thing is thrown off, so is everything else.
Another huge factor is the media. Every one of us is exposed to the media in one way or another, via magazines, music videos or billboard ads. To say that the images from the media are misleading is an understatement. So many of us strive to be like what we see on TV, but the people on TV don’t even live up to the image that they portray.
Besides the fact that the average teen is not a size 2, nobody is perfect. We all have blemishes, we all wish our hair could be a little fuller and we all don’t have rock-hard abs and perfect breasts. I was not born completely comfortable with my looks, but I have learned to accept my body the way it is, and to love my outer appearance just as much as I love my inner self.
I often like to compare myself to Tyra Banks: Even though she is a high-fashion model, she’s not afraid to gain weight occasionally, and most importantly, she knows that women are naturally curvaceous.
Every teen is different, and every teen is beautiful. Society has no right to tell us what is acceptable, nor do they have a right to negatively impact our self-esteem. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.