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How I Stop Allowing The Media To Dictate My Body

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

According to a 2020 survey, 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

You read that right, 28.8 million Americans. There are 10,200 deaths each year that are a direct result of an eating disorder, which is one death every 52 minutes according to the same 2020 survey. 

For decades, we’ve seen how mass media has played a massive role in children’s growth and development. This includes what they wear, what they look like and how they perceive themselves. We have seen the shift in how fast children mature these days, and how adults continuously buy products to keep their “youth.” We have an extremely tainted worldview of body image and the standards that we hold ourselves to.

This isn’t an innate trait that we as humans possess. According to the Cultivation Theory, the heavy viewing of TV and media leads people to have a distorted view of real life. This theory explains that whatever we are exposed to is what we believe needs to be our reality. One example of this could be the show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and their unrealistic beauty standards. They have denied getting plastic surgery until they realized they could profit from it, as shown through their waist trainer and tummy tea Instagram ads. It is also reflected through Kylie Jenner’s makeup brand “Kylie Cosmetics,” which was super popular in 2014.

But in my opinion, our society doesn’t believe we are susceptible to being influenced by the media. The third-person effect proves this theory and states that we might have optimistic bias, feeling that others are able to be influenced but not ourselves. This can be damaging as the more the influence from the media is not acknowledged, the more things that might be damaging to the perception of ourselves and our bodies will be done.

How can this change how much we’re influenced by and what we’re exposed to?

It all begins with who and what we choose to consume. I personally refuse to follow any of the Kardashian/Jenners, as I feel they’re super damaging to the mental health of young girls/women. I feel that each influencer you allow to ‘influence’ you has to have actions that reflect the values and morals they strongly portray.

One of my favorite celebrity influencers I follow is Selena Gomez. She portrays herself as kind and humble, but actually follows what she puts out. She never speaks ill of anyone and defends those that are getting verbally harassed by her fans due to her name. Her motto is to ‘kill people with kindness’ and that is exactly what she does. She also is body positive and she also speaks out on the backlash she receives from people for her appearance.

It also would be helpful to limit social media consumption in general. There have been so many studies that prove social media, especially Instagram, is detrimental to the mental health of young girls. It’s hard to let go of something that is so intertwined with our generation but it’s so freeing once you feel you don’t need to compare yourself/feel bad about not having what you see.

If there is something I don’t like about myself, I make the effort to change it without trying to appease other people. I’ve always struggled with my weight and felt like I wasn’t good enough/pretty enough if I wasn’t super skinny. I found a healthy love for working out and doing exercises that help me achieve the body I desire. The only person I decided to do this for was myself, and it made me feel better knowing that I am able to create a body that I like and not what other people think is beautiful.

Lastly, it’s all about mindset. This is easier said than done, but whatever is put out there will become reality. Changing my mindset and realizing that I was good enough the way I was helped improve my mental health and the way I viewed myself. It also helped me appreciate the small things that make me stand out from others. I also try to remember that my beauty isn’t defined by what I look like on the outside, but who I am on the inside and how I portray myself to others. I believe that you can have a pretty face and nice body but if you’re mean to people, others will slowly gravitate away from you.

It can be so hard to love yourself in a world that seems so against what you look like. But just remember there is no other you in this world, so embrace everything that you have to offer loud and proud.

Allexea Desuyo

Montclair '23

Allexea is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Social Media and Public Relations at Montclair State University. Some of her passions include traveling, taking day trips to NYC, beauty/skincare, and luxury fashion. She hopes to work within the luxury fashion industry, start her own blog and/or as a writer for a fashion magazine. With her articles, she strives to use her knowledge and personal experiences to help others be the best version of themselves.