Picture perfect: the effects of media on self-esteem

She flips through magazines, longing to look like the girl she sees in the picture. A girl with the perfect stomach, perfect legs and the perfect body is shown on the page. Underneath the enviable image read the words, “Get Skinny Now.” She sighs, hoping to have a body close to that someday.

According to the Dove Real Truth About Beauty research, by the age of 14, 55 percent of girls already feel the pressure to be beautiful. Magazines, television, the Internet and other forms of media have a major effect on the self-esteem of girls.

“Magazines show the perfect body and the perfect people, and people automatically feel the need to look and act like that,” sophomore Colton Evers said. “A huge message that I see in media is that you have to be skinny to be attractive, when that’s not the case.”

Senior Ashley Brighton believes that comparison has shown to be inevitable and people struggle with it on a regular basis. People begin to feel a pressure to look and act a certain way, just by looking at a magazine.

“The problem is, they’re portraying things that obviously are not real,” Brighton said. “They’re trying to make you think you should be this fake robot that they created.”

According to communication applications teacher Kami Faldyn, the images put out by magazines can have effects such as eating disorders, depression and self image problems.

“I certainly feel media does make an impression on people,” Faldyn said. “This constant impression is causing depression. People feel like they have to be a particular size or look a certain way and they begin to diet or have plastic surgery done in order to reach their goals.”

Despite the negative impact of media, Faldyn feels that viewers are responsible for their actions and media should not be getting the blame.

“You can’t say, ‘media caused my eating disorder,’” Faldyn said. “They’re trying to make as much money as possible. They are portraying what society finds desirable, so they can’t be given all of the blame.”

Sophomore Genesis Sosa feels that the comparison is inevitable, but believes that beauty is made up of much more than what society portrays.

“Sometimes when you see a person you just look at them and think to yourself, ‘Wow, why can’t I look like that person?’” Sosa said. “People are constantly trying to be society’s version of beautiful, when in reality, being beautiful is all about loving yourself. Whatever size you are, whether you wear make-up or not, as long as you’re happy with yourself, that’s what matters.”

Brighton agrees that beauty comes from aspects such as confidence and also believes that aspects such as personality play a major factor.

“No one is perfect,” Brighton said. “It’s important to remember that. I think seeing someone’s true beauty is being able to look past their physical appearance, and into who they are. It’s when your personality shines through. Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way.”