Self Image

Martha - California
Entered on November 5, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Self Image

It was late afternoon when my little brother and I had gotten home from a long day of school. Both of my parents were at work, and my older sister was supposed to be babysitting, but she was at her friend’s house instead. I stood in front of the mirror for about twenty minutes before deciding that I really wanted to shape my eyebrows like my older friends at school. Looking older was the thing to do. My friends plucked their eyebrows and wore make-up, but I was still not allowed to. I was willing to accept the punishment I had coming from my mom in order to fit in and look “beautiful.” I was eleven and didn’t know a thing about eyebrows, so instead of plucking, I shaved half of one eyebrow off, hoping it would turn out beautiful. This example shows how peers are a major part of life, and how they influence people in many different ways, especially in the category of self image. I believe that today’s society has pushed image to be a key factor in negatively shaping one’s choices and actions.

The media is a vital channel of communication that serves many functions such as, the link between the seller of a product and the consumer, which makes it an influence on the image of young adults. The Cosmopolitan magazine features actresses like Katie Hudson wearing mini dresses. The cover is stamped with statements like “Sexy Issue,” “Feel Great Naked,” “New Killer Ab Shapers,” and “Sex Tricks.” Like many other magazine articles, the Cosmopolitan clearly persuades young women to look sexy in any way possible. Researchers have found that women who looked at advertisements featuring stereotypically thin and beautiful women illustrated more signs of depression, and were more displeased with their bodies after only one to three minutes of viewing the pictures. It is a great concern to see that exposure to just a small amount of advertisements in a short period of time can increase a person’s dissatisfaction with their body. We can only imagine what the cumulative effects of a lifetime of exposures must be.

Not only does the medium influence the image of young adults, but peers do too. As a mentor in a residence hall on campus, I see many young girls who are always worried about how they look. My residents will spend about an hour in the bathroom just on their make-up alone. On weekends they help each other get ready by picking out each others’ outfits, and also doing each others’ makeup. It was just two weeks ago when one of my residents was found to be bulimic because she had a roommate that was physically fit and always at the gym. She felt as if she needed to be physically fit to be liked by her roommate.

In some cases, a person’s relative may also play a role in pushing them to have a certain image. My older brother is constantly criticized by my family about his weight. In high school he played football and volleyball, so he was physically fit. But after high school he stopped working out and concentrated on his career which caused his weight gain. The harsh criticism lowered his self-esteem, and now he is always at the gym because he is self-conscious about his body.

People today rely too much on their image because they are influenced by the media, peers, and their family members. Images of thin feminine beauty can send young adult viewers particularly, those who place great importance on their appearance into increased anger and body dissatisfaction. I believe society is the sole reason for the high level of a person’s dissatisfaction with their image.