The media plays a big role in our lives and influences the way people think, behave, and talk. It can keep us connected to the world around us, keep us up to date with everything that’s going on, but at the same time, it can do some real damage. One of the growing problems of media in our time is the way it constantly dictates how we’re supposed to look and dress. It sets such a high bar and criteria that it’s almost impossible to achieve and live up to. Many people feel insecure and anxious about their physical appearance simply because they don’t have the “perfect body”, the “perfect hair” or the “ideal facial features” and, it is becoming a major problem causing many people to seek therapy in order to deal with the pressure of society and the media telling them that they’re not good enough unless they look a certain way.

I took the liberty of going around EMU’s campus and talking to people about ideal beauty standards. Israa Noor, a Somali student, studying Molecular Biology had this to say on the matter. “I think “beauty standards” are very degrading, the current beauty standards that are all over the place, on Instagram or on TV, make me feel so self-conscious, and that’s terrible” when asked whether she believes that people’s body image has been affected greatly because of the media, she responded “Yes, especially since the 90’s up to 2010 and so, but since then, a lot of people who support curvy women and people of different body shapes and sizes have emerged in the media and it makes me very confident about the way I look”. I continued by asking Israa what she would do to change the current status quo and to improve body acceptance around the world, Israa answered “I would encourage people to wear what they want and whatever they feel like, no matter what they look like, I just wish people would be more comfortable in their own skin, and that’s very hard, sadly. We should incorporate that in education; have a class just for exposing teenagers to the real world, the real bodies and not the ones they see on TV or magazines”.

Fatima Annan, a Syrian student shared the same opinion with Israa, stating “I definitely believe that the way people, women in particular are represented in the media isn’t doing anybody any good, and that’s a really horrible thing that we need to fix, I hope there would be more diversity in body sizes in popular media just to let young people know that people like that exist, and they are loved and celebrated”.

Personally, I do believe that the way the media portrays women, does more harm than good to them, however, I do think that we’re making great strides in terms of acknowledging this problem and trying to fix it and that will hopefully help pave the path to a more tolerant and an all inclusive society.

Story by Anas Abdulhak.