Society and body image 

What is body image?

Our ‘body image’ refers to our thoughts and feelings about our appearance. Lots of things can affect our body image for example;

  • Feeling that we are expected to look ‘perfect’
  • Comparing how we look to other people
  • Being teased or bullied about your appearance

If you do not feel good about your body or appearance you make you feel upset and unconfident. 

Society and body image

Social media (think Instagram and Facebook) …magazines… films… TV… adverts… or celebrities… often have images of many ‘beautiful people’ who have ‘perfect bodies’ who look amazing on TV and in films and magazines, but they often don’t look like this in real life. 

Here are three reasons why what you see on social media or TV is not real!

  1. People’s ‘flaws’ are covered up with clever make-up. Many celebrities speak out about having problems with their skin or how they look very different without makeup
  2. Expert filming or photography shows people from ‘good’ angles and in flattering light
  3. Films and photos are changed afterwards – ‘airbrushed’ or ‘photoshopped’ – to make people look thinner, taller, less freckly or spotty, or a different shape or colour.

We even use filters on our own phones to make us look different!

Goodies and baddies

In films and TV shows, often the stories show us that being ‘beautiful’ means being good. Maybe you have noticed, we frequently see beautiful stars and heroes… but have ‘baddies’ who look different with scars or an unusual face or a damaged eye

Some people think that being a celebrity or being ‘beautiful’ means someone is good, nice, clever, happy, lucky… someone who has everything! And think that people who look different in some way might be bad, sad, mad, stupid and unlucky. Of course, none of this is true!

We know that social media, TV, films and magazines can sometimes make us compare ourselves to other people. Everyone does this, it isn’t just people who have a visible difference, but it can be very upsetting and can make us feel that we are not good enough as we are.

What can I do?

Think about what your body can do rather than what it looks like

Research suggests that focusing on what our body is capable of, rather than how it looks can be really helpful and make us feel better. Think about how strong your body has been to help you overcome lots of difficult things, or the things you can do rather than things that are more difficult. 

Focus on good social media

One current trend is to the show ‘perfect’ images (with all their airbrushing) compared with untouched images using people who are more like the people we see every day. Whilst these images can be very funny but the reason for the pictures is important, it shows that these ‘perfect pictures’ should not be something we try and compare ourselves to as no one can measure up to airbrushing and clever make-up 

You can find more advice on using social media in our Making social media work for you

About confidence


Making social media work for you


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