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How the media impacts our views on body image — Forever 39 Podcast

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Talk to any woman, and she’s bound to tell you that she’s struggled with her body image at some point in her life. From thin is in, to busty boobs and big butts, the perception of what is acceptable in today’s society can change depending on what influences are currently mainstream in pop culture. And there’s no doubt the role of the media plays a big part in determining how we fell about ourselves.

Are you someone that wishes they looked like any one of the five Kardashian sisters? Or maybe you’d rather have a figure like one of the “It” models of today. Regardless as to who in Hollywood you want to look like, chances are you’ve compared yourself to these women that appear flawless thanks to Photoshop and a team of hair and makeup experts.

Just how much influence the media has on our idea of what is beautiful and what isn’t, probably depends on a number of factors, but a team of researches from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland recently studied the media’s influence on a group of men and women in Nicaragua, and the results are pretty shocking.

According to a report published by the New Scientist, those surveyed were from rural villages that lack modern conveniences like electricity and WiFi, and not likely to have been influenced by images the media considers attractive. Lead by researcher Jean-Luc Jucker, the team surveyed 80 men and women between the ages of 16 and 78. First, they asked the group to create their “ideal” body type. Once they completed that task, the group of 80 participants was divided into two smaller groups. For 15 minutes, one of the groups were shown over 70 photographs of women that were either a size 2 or a size 4. The other group was also shown over 70 photographs of women over a 15-minute period, but their women ranged in size from a 16 to 28.

After showing the images to the two groups, the researchers then asked all participants to recreate their ideal women’s body size, according to the report.  The group that were shown plus size women created an image that was larger than their original drawing. And the group that were shown images of thin women, recreated their second image to be smaller than their first.

What’s probably most troubling about this research is that it took only 15 minutes for these images to impact the study’s subjects. Now just imagine if — like most kids, teeanagers, and adults today — you’re exposed to those images on a daily basis. And think about this statistic from the National Eating Disorders Association — kids between the ages of 8 to 18 typically view some form of media for nearly 8 hours per day.

We think it’s safe to conclude that the media goes a long way toward influencing what we think is attractive and what we don’t. No wonder our self esteem about ourselves can sometimes take a hit.

That’s just one topic we hit in this week’s edition of Forever 39.

Also from this week’s Forever 39 podcast — How early is too early for store holiday displays? PLUS: Do you experience back-to-school anxieties? Click on the podcast player above to hear the entire episode.

Share your thoughts on all of them below, on Twitter, on Facebook or at forever39@nj1015.com.

— Annette and Megan, Forever 39

Get to know your hosts: Annette and Megan

Join us for next week’s podcast when we chat with Dennis Malloy of the Dennis and Judi show about why women carry the mental load in relationships, a troubling trend concerning alcohol, and our favorite U.S. destinations.

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