Body Image On TV
Fictional characters seen on TV and movies can affect how people view themselves, especially during childhood and adolescence via social comparison.
Studies show that underweight women are overrepresented in media. They are shown as an example of how people should look in order to be accepted in society.
Overweight people make only around 5% of the total number of characters on TV, even though the number is much higher in real life. When these characters are present, they can be used for comedic moments, where others insult their appearance and their habits. In movies and TV, overweight characters are often portrayed as awkward, depressed, and as outcasts with no friends. This can send a message that overweight people should change in order to reach their full potential. This trend can be a trigger for many concerns and can lead to decreased confidence and avoidance of social encounters. It can also deeply affect individuals and prevent them from doing well in school or at work and prevent them from participating in social events and meeting new people, simply for the fear of rejection and humiliation.
The Psychologists at Richmond Psychology would like to provide some brief information on the topic.
Adolescents can develop body image issues because they do not look like people their age from movies and TV shows set in high school years. Characters on television often look older and more developed, without acne or braces, which can inspire others to want to copy their styles and behaviors. What is often overlooked, is that less than 10% of actors that play those roles are actually adolescents. They are usually much older.
Another popular trend in social media in the past few years is videos and photos showing actors and actresses getting ready for their roles. They show them working out for hours every day, for months or even years, and following strict diets that enable fast fat loss and muscle gain.
After seeing this behavior in actors, many people may be inspired to start the same journey. However, the journey can be dangerous without the proper help of professional trainers and dieticians, and it can sometimes cause more harm than good. It is good to remember that actors have a lot of professional help and get advice on how to train and eat in order to look the way they are seen in action, but it’s not rare to see them getting injured or malnourished from over-exercising or not eating properly either.
TV commercials are another trigger for body image issues and eating disorders. Commercials for clothes, beauty products, products for physical fitness and weight reduction create unrealistic expectations of how the ‘ideal body’ should look, and how to be attractive and good looking. Low self-esteem and negative thoughts about the self can occur while watching these commercials, which motivates individuals, especially adolescents, to change and possibly harm themselves in the process.
Some individuals may benefit from a consultation with a psychologist in Melbourne if they are experiencing body image issues.