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Becoming Body-wise and Media Literate


When you look at images of women and men, what’s your response? Do you see them as more beautiful/buff/handsome/pretty/toned than you are and feel less than? Or are you media literate and know that most of them have been air-brushed into looking so perfect, and wonder what they really look like? If you’d like to learn how to recognize what the media does to images to make us feel badly about ourselves, read on. 

 In “Why teach media literacy to teen girls?” (About-Face,, 7/20, accessed 8/9/20), About Face Executive Director Jennifer Berger explains how we’ve gotten hoodwinked by the media and the damage it’s done to girls and women: “Sure, in the 1970s, airbrushed photographs made women’s skin poreless and ageless, setting an impossible beauty standard. But today, Photoshop not only banishes every “imperfection”, it also sculpts inches off celebrity thighs and waists – often without the women’s consent and against their will. Women’s bodies are still shown in disconnected pieces, while the models and stars are turned into products themselves.”

Watch Killing Us Softly 4 to see the damage that’s being done. It was bad enough when all we had was the print media, TV and movies to show us unreal, glamourized, false images of, let’s face it, mostly women. Then professionals were tasked with doing the air-brushing etc. Now, not only are these images in our faces, but it’s us doing the beautification modification. Maybe we actually can’t look the way we want, but we can appear to look it. How creepy is it when you can no longer believe your eyes? If you can’t believe what you see, what can you believe? Without truth and fact, life simply becomes surreal. When it comes to viewing Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc. we need to take what (or who) we’re seeing with a grain of salt. 

Here are suggestions about how to become more media literate. First, assume (unless you’re told differently), that people on social media often put their best face, if not foot, forward, especially celebrities and wanna be celebrities. So consider that they may have doctored their photos. Second, understand that this obsession with looking better than we do is pervasive but unhealthy and that you need not buy into it. Tell yourself you’re fine and that you’re focusing on being healthy rather than on healthy looking. Third, step back from fixating on appearance and think about other aspects of your life. If you don’t give these images power over you, they won’t have any. Imagine not caring so much about how you (or anyone) looks.