How Altering Images Alters Our Image of Ourselves

Posted by Jenna S
Featured Image by Hannah on Flickr

Ladies, have you ever seen a woman in a magazine or on an advertisement and then began feeling bad about yourself because you feel you can never be that beautiful? This is a common thing for women, and it’s because that’s how the media wants us to feel. They don’t want us to feel as beautiful and perfect as whoever they are picturing, because then we won’t feel the need to buy whatever they’re selling.

Lots of women feel that they aren’t good enough. This is clearly shown by a survey done by The Heat Group, in which they found that out of all the girls they surveyed, 68% believed they were less beautiful than the average girl. The thing is, they haven’t always felt that way. When girls are first born, they’re oblivious to the media world and to society’s idea of “beautiful”. For a while in their lives, they barely care what they look like or if they’re as pretty as the next girl, and they live blissfully ignorant of society’s standards of beauty.

So why does this change? Once girls start getting older, they begin to notice more and more examples of what is considered beautiful and what isn’t. Walking through the magazine aisle of a store and seeing all the perfect women pictured on the front, accompanied by phrases like “Get your hottest body!”, “Get flat abs FAST!” or “Look pretty now!” can have a big effect on these girls who are just beginning to develop an image of themselves. All of the sudden, these girls have a new standard to set themselves to, and they apply this standard to what they want to look like in the future.

Fast forward to when these young girls are grow up to be teenagers, and the pressure of the media has intensified. Constant advertisements on T.V and in magazines saying that this is the product you NEED in order to be beautiful. Pictures everywhere of women who meet the beauty standard, pictures of women who these girls aspire to look like, but know they never will. These girls are influenced by these factors every day, and it causes their self confidence to slowly fade. An article written by Women’s Media Center  shows how much beauty ideals are pushed by magazines, and how much this affects girls of all ages.

Now these girls are at home looking at themselves in the mirror and comparing every aspect of themselves to the pictures they constantly see, and they are telling themselves they aren’t good enough. Lots of women do this, and day by day they have more and more negative thoughts about their bodies. An experiment run by Glamour Magazine shows us that out of all of the women who participated in the experiment, 97% had at least one “I hate my body” moment during the day. This isn’t how we want girls thinking about themselves, is it? Well, it seems this is how the media wants us thinking about ourselves because if we are perfectly content with ourselves, who is going to buy their products?

But how do they do it? How does the media influence us so much that we completely change our viewpoint on ourselves? How do they find women to portray who are so seemingly perfect? The thing we have to realize is that most of the time, the pictures of the women they are portraying are not what they seem. Most of the time, the pictures we see have been drastically changed using Photoshop, a photo editing program. From the time a picture of a model is taken to the time it is published in a magazine, it can look completely different than when it was originally taken. We can clearly see how much a photo is changed in a video created by Dove for their Movement for Self-Esteem:

But why does this affect how we see ourselves so much? By using photoshop, editors can completely remove any flaws the models may have to create a seemingly perfect human being. Then when we see these photos, we start thinking about all the flaws we have that these ladies are portrayed as not having.

Most of the time, this is used to convince us to buy a product. By drawing attention to our own flaws with these pictures of perfect women, businesses can convince us to purchase their products to try to rid of ourselves of this flaw. For example, an ad for a face wash could portray a woman with perfect skin, stating that they used this product to make them beautiful. In reality, it was most likely photoshop that gave her that perfect skin. Photoshop is seen as a necessity for these businesses because if they just portray someone who looks the same as any other woman, how would it convince people to pay for their product?


This image from Identity Magazine is an example of editing done by magazines; we can see that the model’s face has been completed edited and smoothed out, and even her facial features have been edited as well.

What we really need women to remember is that the women in these ads have flaws just like they do, and there is nothing wrong with having flaws. What we need to start doing is teaching women from a young age that they are truly beautiful and there is nothing wrong with having flaws, because no one is perfect. What the media should be doing is trying to build up the self confidence in these women instead of knocking it down for commercial purposes.

So from today on, every time you see a picture of some beautiful woman and start feeling bad about yourself, remind yourself that this woman has flaws just like you and you are beautiful too.

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