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The portrayal in the media of female body image has been a point of discussion for some time but research suggests that young men and boys are just as adversely affected by media and advertising images.

Media images present an unrealistic picture of body image with super-slim women and muscle-bound men gaining the most attention. Whilst most people understand that image manipulation is possible, the extent to which this is used by the media to lighten/darken skin tone and alter body shape is not always understood. Evidence of this pressure is clear when you look at how young men and women tend to portray themselves on social media, with young women opting for overtly sexual looks whilst young men focus on aggressive content or content of a sexual or “lad-culture” based nature.

The impact of the media’s portrayal of body image

Credos’ 2016 study, ‘A Picture of Health’ found that 41% of boys feel that the portrayal of men in media images is unrealistic. This doesn’t mean though that young men as well as young women are not falling foul of media image stereotypes. There is an increased tendency in both genders towards over concern about body shape and weight, this can lead to depression and high-risk behaviours including drug taking and binge drinking. Adults, as well as young people are finding themselves with issues surrounding body image. The pressure is on to achieve the impossible, i.e. to fit in with stereotypical images that are often not real in the first place. Dysmorphia, the dissatisfaction with body appearance, is on the rise in adults and young people alike.

How our ideas of celebrity have an impact on body image

There is a huge emphasis on the culture of celebrity in the media. Sadly this all too often means that the people we are encouraged to admire and aspire to being are those with unrealistically ‘ideal’ bodies. Celebrity culture relies to a great extent on body image.

Newspapers are quick to report when a star puts on weight or loses it and the negative messages are far more common than the positive. As these celebrity images bombard us in magazines, films, music videos and online, it is small wonder that more and more time is spent seeking self-validation through social media.

How Safeline can help

Adults and children alike are left vulnerable by the feelings of dissatisfaction and self-loathing that the failure to conform to media portrayed body image can induce. These feelings can leave people socially isolated and susceptible to flattering advances from prospective abusers.

1 in 6 men,  1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 children have been the targets of sexual abuse. In these situations, it is difficult to know who to turn to.   Safeline is here for you.  

It is Safeline’s aim  to prevent abusive situations from occurring in the first place.  Our Prevention and Early Intervention team support children and young people aged 9 – 18.  To find out about what support they offer please check out their pages.

Our helpline and online services are available by contacting our specialised advisors via text, instant messaging, chat, email or phone. Get in touch here

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