Negative Body Image & The Effects of the Media

“I’m so fat.” 

“I hate my thighs.”

“If I was skinner, people would love me more.”

“If I was prettier, I’d have more friends.”

Sound familiar?

This is the inner dialogue amongst many women around the world.

When did we start being so mean – to ourselves?

For me, it started at the ripe age of 9.

A carefree & happy fourth grader who was so pumped to perform in my end of year class play.

4th-Grade(faces of my friends & classmates blurred for privacy)

I don’t remember my lines, or even the name of the play.

But I do remember this…   

As we were getting dressed backstage, one of my friends gave some unsolicited feedback.

“You all need to cover your stomachs. You look fat.”

And so, we all did.

And that one sentence, for me, changed my whole perception.

Up until that point, I didn’t even know “fat” was a thing. Her criticism stung like a bee. It was as if a self-hate switch flicked on inside of my mind.

Today, as a woman that practices self-love and teaches other women to do the same, I can’t help but feel hyper-sensitive towards young girls, and what they face in today’s society.

A non-stop barrage of social media, highly-airbrushed magazine pictures, and overly-sexualized images of women. Grossly unrealistic images of the female body are in their face, 24/7.

And while I can’t single-handedly change the way we are portrayed, I can stand as a mentor for today’s young women by sharing positive body imaging and self-love.

Want to join me?

I believe body image perception and confidence levels of both girls and young women needs to be changed on three fronts:

  1. By nurturing and educating our young women of tomorrow about positive body image, what they see in the media, nutrition, movement and encouraging them to chase their dreams.
  1. By building confidence in the women of today through mind, body, spirit & style to unapologetically be who they are and everything they want to be. {that’s why I do what I do!}
  1. By taking a stand with both print and digital media outlets on what we will tolerate as an acceptable representation of women today – natural beauty, real women of all colors, shapes and sizes.
Here are some organizations/movements devoted to this cause:

The Representation Project – Miss Representation Documentary.

Dove has some excellent body image campaigns but this one is my favourite.

The Always #LikeAGirl campaign is incredibly powerful.

About Face educates women & girls about how to resist harmful media messages that affect body image and self-esteem.

Beauty Redefined is a small organization that I really admire. They’re all about reshaping our ideas of ‘beautiful’ and ‘healthy’ that we’ve been fed by mainstream media for years.

Bella Grace is a magazine for anyone who is tired of trying to fit ill-considered standards of what beauty is supposed to look like or reaching for unattainable ideals.

Darling Magazine prides itself on using real women as their models.

Have a favorite organization devoted to self-confidence, self-esteem and positive body imaging? I’m looking for organizations, big and small, to highlight and possibly partner with. I’d love your suggestions!

With love & gratitude,

Shelley Cohen



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