Friday, December 14, 2007

The images we see on television and in magazines and movies send messages about what's beautiful and what makes someone successful. People often imitate those images, changing their clothes, their haircut, their style, to be more like what they see in the media.

Problem is, what's shown in the media doesn't usually represent reality. The media likes to show women who are really tall, really thin, usually light-skinned, with voluptuous bodies. But this kind of body type is rare--it's not the norm.

Guys also get media messages. They're supposed to be tall, thin, and muscular, with perfect skin and teeth.

When we can't live up to these impossible images, we feel inferior or less successful. Our best defense is knowing that the media uses tricks to make people look better than they really do. Most of the pictures we see are distortions--if not outright lies.

People come in all different shapes and sizes. We are tall and short, thinner and heavier, lighter and darker. We have straight and curly hair. We have lots of body hair, and very little body hair.

Here are some tips for viewing the media with a smarter, more critical eye.

* The media uses props, lighting and computer technology to make actors' and models' bodies look like the so-called "perfect image."
* People's shapes and sizes are often changed in the pages of magazines.
* So-called "imperfections"--acne, freckles, lines, wrinkles, skin folds and other unwanted features--are airbrushed out.
* Splicing together body parts from several different photographs can create the media's "perfect image." So, what we often see in a magazine ad is a lie.

Everyone is different. And it's not just normal, but also wonderful, to be different.

Get media savvy. Don't let the media tell you how you should look or feel about your body.