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How Media Impacts Body Image and Eating Disorders

Our lives and our time are pervaded by television, magazines, radio, and social media. Adults spend an average of 7.5 hours per day consuming media. While children and adolescents spend six to seven hours per day. Without a doubt, media consumption plays a significant role in our daily lives. Has far-reaching consequences, including effects on body image and eating disorders. An analysis of over 25 studies looked at how exposure to media images, particularly of thin women, affects body image. The findings of these studies revealed that viewing media imagery of thin models had a negative impact on body image. Whereas viewing average-sized models, plus-size models, or inanimate objects had a much smaller impact. One can use guidance and counselling to understand the root cause of having a negative body image and find ways to overcome it. Take help from Dr. R.K. Suri, the best clinical psychologist in Dwarka, who can understand your mental health issues related to your body image, and guide you towards having a positive outlook on yourself.


The media industry is aware of this negative relationship, as well as the increased risks for teens and adolescents. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, social media platforms are aware and have documented how exposure to body-related content on their platform negatively impacted teen girls’ mental health.

Negative body image could be a big factor in disturbing the mental health of most people. These issues can cause problems in living a stress-free life. Even if one’s physical form does not change, it is possible to achieve a healthier body image. Individually, mental health support and social support frequently result in improved well-being. Feel free to consult Dr. R.K. Suri, the best clinical psychologist in Dwarka, if you are facing such issues.

Media Representation of Evolving Physical Ideals

Over the years, the media has portrayed increasingly thin women and muscular men as ideal physical figures. Furthermore, written media has emphasized fitness, exercise, and diet as ways to achieve an “ideal” figure. Particularly in media outlets aimed at adolescent girls. The spread of these ideals through online and offline media outlets creates dangerous and frequently unrealistic expectations of thinness and muscularity.

Social Comparisons

According to social comparison theory, people have an innate tendency to evaluate themselves in relation to others. Individuals naturally compare their bodies to those depicted in magazines, imagery, or written media depicting thinness or muscularity. Despite the fact that each of us has a unique body with unique needs. Natural social comparison instincts can take hold when viewing media imagery. Resulting in a negative perception of one’s own body in comparison to the bodies promoted by modern media.

Real vs Photoshop

Though social comparison drives us to compare ourselves to the images we see of others. Those images are not always accurate. Photo augmentation via filters or photoshopping drastically alters a person’s visual image. Can result in body portrayals that are not only unrealistic to achieve but also unreal in and of themselves.

While many adults are aware of the effects of Photoshop on imagery, many teenagers and adolescents are not. Children frequently do not recognize when an image has been “retouched” to achieve a specific esthetic or ideal. Without the ability to distinguish between real and altered imagery. Children are especially vulnerable to viewing unreal, photoshopped images as achievable body standards. Even teens and adolescents understand the existence of filters. Photoshop may lack the developmental maturity to consider how photo augmentation deceives the eye and exacerbates social comparisons.

Social Media Algorithms

While extremely complex, social media algorithms all have the same goal: to keep the viewer on social media. Algorithms accomplish this goal in a variety of ways, but one key method for encouraging continued social media consumption is to recommend content that will likely be of interest to social media users based on their viewing history and engagement data. In the case of body-focused content, this can imply that a social media user who begins engaging with harmful imagery of unrealistic beauty standards will continue to receive increasing volumes of this type of content, further clogging their social media feed with impossible standards.

These and other factors combine to form a link between mass media exposure and negative body image, particularly among more vulnerable populations such as teenagers and adolescents. While media consumption does not always result in negative body image, there is a clear link that is driven by the factors mentioned above and many more.

How to Reduce the Influence of the Media on Body Image

Understanding the negative impact of traditional media imagery on body image is the first step toward approaching media more mindfully. Furthermore, curating media consumption to avoid unrealistic or unhealthy imagery can aid in the development of a more positive and nurturing body image. Instead of bombarding your social media feed with images of unrealistically thin or muscular models, consider engaging with and following media outlets and accounts that promote healthy bodies of all shapes and sizes. With your media consumption, invite yourself to experience and celebrate the diversity of the human body, and in turn, honor your own uniqueness.


An individual may be unaware of how much of their self-perception is influenced by negative comments made by others. They can explore all of the factors that contributed to their current attitudes and mental health difficulties. Take help from Dr. R.K. Suri, the best clinical psychologist in Dwarka, who can help in understanding what has resulted in having a negative self-image and what could be positive ways to overcome such perception.

Authors Bio – Prof. (Dr.) R. K. Suri is a trained professional chartered clinical psychologist with more than 38 years of experience in hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis, neuropsychological assessment, career counseling, and relationship management. Has been providing career counselling globally and has been providing counseling at IITs, IIMs, and SPAs, for admission to Universities in the US, UK, Australia, etc.

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