Self-Image: Belief and the Media

It’s difficult to live in this culture and not hit negative body image. It’s particularly potent for those of us struggling with disordered eating and image issues. Check out the statistics:

  • Numerous correlational and experimental studies have linked exposure to the thin ideal in mass media to body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal, and disordered eating among women.
  • The effect of media on women’s body dissatisfaction, thin ideal internalization, and disordered eating appears to be stronger among young adults than children and adolescents. This may suggest that long-term exposure during childhood and adolescence lays the foundation for the negative effects of media during early adulthood.
  • Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men. This effect may be smaller than among women but it is still significant.
  • Young men seem to be more negatively affected by the media images than adolescent boys are.
  • (Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders:

    We cannot underestimate the influence of media. George Orwell warned us of that sentiment years earlier:
    “The people believe what the media tells them they believe.”

    Biblical translation?

    The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Proverbs 14:15

    Indeed, beauty and image standards have changed throughout time. This includes 17th century artist, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, portraying the voluptuous female figure, the roaring twenties flat-chested flapper, the curvy body type of 1950’s sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe, 1980’s overconsumption and its power “Supermodel” and 1990’s emaciated “Heroin Chic,” complete with its waif muse, model Kate Moss.

    And, of course, now, it’s about the derriere. Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Iggy Azalea all exemplify this aesthetic. Now we have women actually getting plastic surgery to enhance their backsides.

    All things are subject to change.

    But, if we’re to even think of being emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically healthy, we’d all do well to have an absolute about our worth which does not change.

    And that absolute comes directly from God.

    …Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
    2 Chronicles 20:20

    And here are some of His thoughts about our value:

    “O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.”Song of Solomon 2:14

    “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Song of Solomon 4:7

    “Thou art beautiful, O my love…” Song of Solomon 6:4

    And if we could only agree with that estimation, even siding with Psalm 139:14 concerning personal self-image, then, perhaps, we’d experience a much healthier and happier life.

    …I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

    Belief: it’s a powerful force. What we believe in life impacts our lives. There’s no getting away from that.

    For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7

    Therefore, it would do each of us some good, to examine our beliefs and our reasons for buying into them.

    We don’t have to believe everything we’re told and presented with, image or no image.

    However, believing God can get us more of what we truly desire: to be spiritually alive and our most magnificent selves.