There is no one body that is like another. The entire human species is unique in it’s own way. So why do we strive to be like each other? Why do we constantly cause pain and hurt to our own self esteem to try and be like someone we could never be? What causes a negative self image in a person? There is general societal concern about what causes low self-esteem and how it will affect future generations. The most common causes of a negative self image include: the media, family, peers and abuse from the present or past. During adolescence, having a poor image of your appearance and body can be incredibly harmful.
The changes occurring in your body during these years will affect you mentally and physically. The coming generation, girls especially, seem to believe that being thin and provocative is the only way that society is going to accept you and think you are beautiful. Research found by Allie Kovar in an essay on The Effects of Media on Body Image, she stated some researchers believe that having a constant reminder of being thin may be desensitizing to the youth and make them think this is normal, and causes a constant state of shame or guilt for someone who is comparing their own self to someone on TV or in a magazine.
One of the biggest reasons for a negative self-image is the media. Whether you like it or not, the media will try to tell you that you need to be perfect and set unrealistic standards that are impossible to live up to. Though it is good to have someone that you aspire to be like, being convinced by media can affect the good aspects of how your role models are people to look up to. As stated in the essay written by Kovar on the The Effects of Media on Body Image , “The models of today are significantly smaller than models of the past.
With each passing year, front-cover models reach levels of thinness that are worse than the criteria of anorexia” (pp 6). Not only are these people who young adults look up to thin, but they are seen on TV and state that they need to be on a diet and lose more weight. Models are not the only people portraying this thinness, but stars on reality TV shows are stating the same thing and constantly complaining about their own body image and how they need to be small. Although media has a huge impact on how a person portrays oneself, a peer influence is almost a bigger impact.
Family, peers and the school are all very important and powerful agents of the development of a person’s self esteem. Urie Bronfenbrenner, a psychologist in Oxford, England has done much research on human development. He quotes “Peer acceptance in adolescence provides support and validation for healthy growth in youth”( pp 4). He explains that there is evidence among young adults who seek a friendship between peers with a similar concern on body-image, which then in this case further increases a low self esteem.
Young women especially are tested by peers on appearance evaluation and acceptance. They are constantly rejected by peers and often will resort to violent methods to cope with being teased, such as dieting and completely change their appearance. Not only do friends and peers cause low self esteem, but also family. Professor Mark Tyrelle of University of Texas explains that with people close to you, having a negative self image can begin at a young age. Your family, friends, and peers at school all influence how you see yourself.
Examples of early experiences that can lead to thinking bad about yourself include: punishment, neglect or abuse, failing to meet parent standards, being on a receiving end of other people’s stress, being the “odd one”at school. As we grow up, we take in the voices of the people who are significant to us. Experiences that we face create a foundation for a general conclusion about ourselves. Tyrelle explains this as the “Bottom Line”, and when this line is in place, it’s hard to question it. When you count on the bottom line for everything, your biased thinking starts to come into place.
The biases become a sort of support for the line; no matter how things turn out, you automatically assume the worst of it (Tyrelle pp 4 & 7). Another reason for a negative self-esteem is violence in the home which can be a huge factor in how you perceive yourself. This doesn’t mean it is extreme violence, but any circumstance that is ongoing and unnoticed by others will have deep emotional effect on a child. Living in a single parent home, or without your biological parents and living with grandparents can even cause an unhappy child.
These kids grow up without the guidance and love from their real parents, and statistics show that this has a huge effect of low self esteem. They grow to be envious of their friends who grew up with their biological parents, and feel that they are more loved. With a lack of support from friends and family, the chances of achieving things are at an all time low. Having little to no support will create no motivation for someone to achieve what they desire to do. They need confidence to help build support for themselves and to participate in things that make them happy.
There are many signs that come along with a negative self image. To be aware of when someone may be feeling unsatisfied with themselves is to look into these signs: being unable to accept compliments, concerned about what others think, having depression, becoming withdrawn from friends and or family, extreme self defense and throwing a pity party to search for self validation. Having a negative self image can lead to many other serious effects in the long run and can be incredibly harmful.
Although there are many causes for creating your mind to believe that your own self is in fact someone who needs to be different and better, experts at Bradley Hasbro Research Center say that there is no specific reason for why an individual develops a negative self-image. Though we don’t want to have to change for a person, we find ourselves going out of our way to seek attention and acceptance by the people around us. The media, peers and family can often be harsh influences. But overcoming the negative and accepting who you are is the only way to be confident with the person you were made to be.