TV, TV, on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

Self-esteem – how you feel about yourself.  Self-image – how you see yourself.  Teen girls hear these terms over and over.  They know they shouldn’t look to the media to define who they are or let it affect how they see themselves.  They know they shouldn’t let what they see on TV, in magazines, and every other possible media outlet influence their self-esteem.  But they can’t help it.  It’s hard even for adults.  We all know better.  But think about a girl who grows up in a family that constantly tells her she’s worthless and not good enough.  She will gradually internalize those lies and grow up believing them, right?  In the same way, think about a girl who grows up in a media culture that incessantly and loudly tells her she should try to be like these models and perfect images she sees everywhere around her, even though she’ll never be good enough to match them.  Won’t she eventually believe it?

It’s a shame that so many of the shows, movies, music videos, and especially advertisements portray an ideal to teen girls that they can never live up to.  We’ve all heard of the way photos are polished up to remove wrinkles, flabbiness, blemishes, and other imperfections.  I’m glad that things like that are being exposed more and more now.  Letting girls know the perfection they see isn’t attainable, that it’s most likely fake, helps them to see through the smoke in the mirror to the truth.  However, that doesn’t stop the subconscious internalization of the lie that perfection is normal.  Like we talked before about how constantly seeing sexual things in the media makes it seem normal, constantly seeing girls who look perfect in the media makes that seem normal as well.

We need to always remind girls, as well as ourselves, that the media is full of lies.  They use gorgeous and skinny actresses in movies and shows to attract people to watch them, and they use the same types of models to sell products.  The thought is, if they can make a girl feel insecure enough about herself by forcing her to compare herself to these models, she will buy the product with the false hopes that it will improve her or make her better in some way.  Girls need to be regularly reminded that they are good enough.  That God made them beautiful the way they are.  That they shouldn’t compare themselves to anyone but the ideal God has created for them to be.  And if they aren’t reaching that ideal yet, God can help them get there. That goal is in no means unattainable.

I will say that I think our culture has become a little better about being aware of these media techniques and has been working on ads and other messages that promote girls being themselves and having a positive and realistic self-image.  I’m happy about the way things are headed.  But we still have a long ways to go.

*****As always, please post any comments you’d like to add on this topic.  I’d love to share your thoughts with the girls on Thursday!  Also, any media examples (good or bad) or Bible verses on this topic would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

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~ by Dusty Crabtree - Author of Shadow Eyes on July 3, 2012.

4 Responses to “TV, TV, on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?”

  1. I’m not sure these perfect female images are always being portrayed in the media as “normal” so much as they are being lifted up as the ideal, the goal, the way to be, the way you need to look if you want your life to be happy and successful, the way to look in order to get all the male attention you need/want. In the movies, with happy endings at least, the beautiful Cinderella always gets her perfect Prince Charming in the end and lives happily ever after, right? So the assumption is, it’s my fault if I don’t have a wonderful boyfriend that treats me right (or a boyfriend at all). I must not be pretty enough. There’s something wrong with me.
    For a Christian, that whole focus is off. “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. How much time a day do we spend just delighting in the presence of the Lord, delighting in who he is and in his love for us? Most of us spend way too much time with our eyes glued to media. I will “fix my eyes on Jesus the author and finisher(perfecter) of my faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) Not only does he perfect your faith, he will also perfect your self-image. He will show you how he sees you, how he defines you if you spend time with him. When he is my focus, all else fades into the background as so much white noise (or would that be “black”?) Paul says in Galatians 5 “Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.” How can we do that if we march continually to the beat of non-stop media input.
    He sees us as beautiful and delightful. “. . . as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5b. “The king is enthralled by your beauty. Honor him, for he is your Lord.” Psalm 45:11. And of course, there’s the ever loved Psalm 139 to be poured over if you want to be reminded how special, how precious and valuable you are to him.
    Pride often gets a bad wrap in scripture, but here’s a verse where it’s helpful. “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” Galatians 6:4 The Lord’s the only one I know who can (just by spending time with him and submitting to him) get us to stop comparing ourselves to other women in the media, on the street, or even at school or church, and help us to gain a healthy pride in who we are in Him.

  2. Another great post, Dusty. Yes, the media has manipulated us for years. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s what we believe about ourselves that count. And when we have that kind of belief, it ripples out from us to others. Cheers. Tweeted and shared!

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