The media is hurting our generation’s self-image

By creating a cookie cutter body type, the media is hurting young peoples’ self confidence


Abby Layton, JagWire A&E editor

When looking back on the superheroes and Disney princesses of my generation, I can say with certainty that a lot has changed. When the Disney princess was created with Snow White, she was the epitome of an idealized mid-century lady. There were certain expectations and qualifications the character had to meet. She had to sit, smile, clean and wait for her prince to save her. I loved that movie, along with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. As a child, I could find nothing wrong with the Disney princesses, but looking back today, there are problems in the industry.

Today, a typical superhero in a  Marvel movie is built, buff, and beautiful. Take Thor, Captain America or Ironman for example. They have the “perfect” male body created by Hollywood, yet most of the time they do not accurately represent what the population actually looks like. This has caused a disconnect between what Hollywood is creating and real life. Granted, they are superheroes fighting alien creatures from another planet, but still. There is something wrong when every single superhero Hollywood is cranking out has the exact same body type.

The Disney princesses little girls watch today are a far cry from the animated characters that graced our screens as children, even 10 years ago. They are portrayed as strong, independent, and diverse young women. This is a great change, and a step in the right direction towards where the media needs to be. However, this still does not change the fact that each one has a very similar body type. While their characters might be diverse, the image they portray to young children is still one of how society has decided the perfect body is.

This consistent portrayal of the ideal body type in the media can create self image issues for both boys and girls. At a young age, kids are very impressionable and what they see now can cause problems further down the road. I know many teens have body image issues now because of what they have seen in the media all throughout their childhood and teenage years, myself included.

Every teen goes through insecurity about their body; it’s simply a fact of growing up. The generations before us were not under the constant microscope of our peers, and were not pressured by the media around them to conform to a certain image. With our generation, however, the pressure to conform to society’s demands is heightened.We live in a world of cartoon and plastic with perfect bodies, and it can be easy to get lost.

This means there needs to be a change. The media needs to portray its characters in a way that is actually representative of the young people its movies are targeting. They need to show young children that there are countless different body types out there, and each one is unique. As cliche as this sounds, they need to show that no matter how you look on the outside, it’s what is on the inside that counts.

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