Some marketers design content with the deliberate purpose of attracting attention by enticing visitors to click on a link to a web page, with the intention of making a profit. Women are powerfully influencing marketers. Marketers are influenced to post sexualized body shaming content that negatively portrays women every single time a woman clicks on those type of posts. When women choose to click, they are telling marketers what they want to see. Whatever women click on or do not click determines how marketers will advertise.
Women are extremely powerful, but for the most part, we are unaware of our power. Advertisers target women because we make 90% of the purchasing decisions for our homes, and we are the dominant sex on social media. Women are the primary influencers of the goods and services produced, and the imagery the media uses.
Women have the power to change the world. If only we knew it and had the confidence to do something with that knowledge. It is the way we view our bodies and the way we teach our daughters to view our bodies that affect how we see ourselves.
What influences body image?
Body image is the way we view our bodies and the way we think other people view our bodies. The vast majority of women struggle with body image issues.
So where do we adopt our ideas about food, fat, and body image? We learn how we should look from our home environments, our peers, and mass media. From a young age, kids start to perceive what fat means just by the external stimuli they are exposed to. They learn that fat is “bad for you” and will make you gain weight. As a result, they do not want to eat.
The way we learn to view our bodies begins early in life. Our immediate and extended circles of influence tell us how we should view our bodies. They send clear messages telling a young girl how she should look
Body Image Development
It may seem that clicking on an article about the way a celebrity looks is harmless, but 91% of women and 34% of men are unhappy with their bodies, and they resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Girls learn that the’ perfect body’ is young, thin, and athletic, with large breasts, light complexion, and blonde hair. Yet, the so-called ‘perfect body’ make up less than 5% of the world’s population.
People who are unhappy with their bodies are more likely to develop eating disorders. People trying to obtain the perfect body may develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Eating disorders include a pattern of chronic fasting, dieting, binging, and purging. More than 1/3 of the people who admit to “normal dieting,” will merge into compulsive dieting. Roughly 1/4 of those will suffer from a partial or full-on eating disorder, and 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
The way we view our bodies is closely linked to self-esteem. Low self-esteem in adolescents can lead to eating disorders, early sexual activity, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Body image is a big problem leading to depression and social anxiety.
Preventing Body Image Issues
As mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends, we have the power to change how little girls see their bodies as they grow.
We can start by modeling a positive body image.
As women, we have internalized cultural norms surrounding our bodies. We have learned that we should be thin. My daughter is now 20, and I am ashamed to say that I did a poor job in this department. Many times, I modeled negative body image in front of her. I have struggled with my weight and used derogatory words to describe myself when she was in earshot. However, it should not have mattered if she was in earshot because I should not have spoken about myself in such a way.
But, you can learn from my mistakes. As a female role model, become aware of how you feel about your body. Be mindful of the fact that you are modeling a negative or positive body image to little girls by the way you speak about yourself, and by the posts you view. Stop using words like “fat” and “diet” around children. Young children, and especially girls, are vulnerable and receptive to underlying meanings.
The media we absorb, and the media we expose our child to influences how they view their bodies. By not clicking on media that models negative body image, we are sending a message to advertisers, that we do not condone and will not support any form of media that influences a little girl to hate her body.
Braun, A. (n.d.). 5 Ways to Prevent Body Image Issues. Retrieved from Parents: https://www.parents.com/kids/eating-disorders/prevent-body-image-issues/
Do Something. (n.d.). 11 Facts About Body Image. Retrieved from https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image.
Gallivan, H. (n.d.). Melrose Center. Retrieved from Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health: http://www.macmh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/18_Gallivan_Teens-social-media-body-image-presentation-H-Gallivan-Spring-2014.pdf
Ilkay, J. (2013). Identifying motives of mothers who purchase healthy convenience snacks for their children: A phenomenological study. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly; Antioch, 5(2), 237-246. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1503664101?accountid=12085