How Much Does the Media Really Affect a Woman’s Self Esteem?


Karina Harris works as a bartender and receptionist in Santa Cruz, California. She is a somewhat-recent graduate of the University of Florida who does not want to commit to a salary job yet due to the desire for personal growth and satisfaction. In her spare time, she is working on various projects including becoming a certified fitness instructor, starting up another all-girls band, and finishing her self-published zine, a collection of short stories, poems, and art related to the south called “Humidity: Stories from the South.”

By: Karina Harris
Contributing writer

It is no new news that the media has been projecting unrealistic beauty and body images of women to society for decades. The media’s skewed expectation of what makes up woman has been steadily fed to girls of all ages through television, magazines, movies and advertisements.

A study conducted by the University of Central Florida found that 50 percent of girls ages three to six are already worried about being fat. Nearly one-third said they wanted to change something about their bodies. Unattainable standards of beauty rattle the self-esteem of even the most confident gal in the room.

As a 24-year-old woman, I’ve been a victim too.

We ladies tend to blow our self-named “flaws” out of proportion. An analysis conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, UK, found when it comes to appearance, men see themselves in a more positive light than women.

When it comes to the physical ideals of self-image and what is expected by society, women are really the ones getting the short end of the stick.

Close to 75 percent of women who participated in a survey by Simple Skincare confessed to hating their daily makeup routine because looking in the mirror negatively affected their self-esteem.

Why are women so much more critical of themselves than men? It could be due to the fact that women are judged on their appearance more often than men. It could also be because standards of female beauty are considerably higher and more rigid.

Illustration by: Karina Harris

Illustration by: Karina Harris

It has been estimated that, through the media today, young women in the modern age see more images of outstandingly beautiful women in one day than our mothers saw throughout their entire adolescence. This constant exposure to idealized images of female beauty in the media makes unrealistically good looks seem the norm.

Social scientist and author Kate Fox noted that the media’s unhealthy pressures to look a certain way have become so bad, that magazines like Vogue and Elle are now banned in many eating disorder clinics because of their known negative effect on a patient’s body-image. Body shaming in any way, shape or form is incredibly unhealthy.

Ladies, all I’m asking is to put all the garbage that the media feeds us aside and recognize that fake components and physical idealities do not constitute a real woman. And ladies, be confident in who you are and what you do. In doing so, you will attract people who see you as you are, a real human being, apart from all the superficial stuff. We are Renaissance women.