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How the media affects our self-esteem

A few weeks ago, I spent some time with a 3 month old baby and put him in front of a mirror. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I did think that he would find interest. After all, it seems that most people are interested in looking at their reflections, almost like it is an innate curiosity. Otherwise, mirrors wouldn’t be so prevalent in places, like bathrooms, where they serve no other utility. This baby looked at the mirror for a few seconds before he spotted himself. Immediately, his eyes lit up, his head tilted to the side and he had a grin that would make your heart melt. It was very apparent that he was pleased to see this reflection! I wondered if he knew it was himself and I reasoned that he probably did not. However, I don’t know that the reaction would have been any different if he had known. After all, he has not learned that there is something “wrong” with the way he looks…yet. It is an unfortunate reality that our culture gives us overt and covert messages, particularly through the media’s depiction of “beauty,” that undermine our self-esteem. How many people do you see on a regular basis who look like the photos in magazines? Even the photos in popular psychology magazines are not a good representation of what most people look like. I have met and worked with many individuals who see themselves through a harsh and distorted lens likely as a result of unrealistic expectations from magazines, television, and advertising.

So if this is not news to you, do you still struggle with negative perceptions when you look in the mirror?

Well, it’s not likely that the media, television and advertisers are going to change their ways soon, so what can you do to counter the negative perceptions that these sources incite?

To start, I suggest looking in the mirror today and giving yourself a big beautiful grin.

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