The Pressure of the Media’s Unrealistic Body Image Standards

Melissa Herb
7 min readAug 5, 2021
A plus size woman with sunglasses on floating in a pool on a unicorn floatie.
Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash

It’s hard to be a woman. We’re told that we’re not good enough, or too this or too that and it never ends. There are so many things the media tells us about our bodies, but one of the most damaging is how we should look to be considered “beautiful.” In my opinion, the media has created an unrealistic body image standard for women. This blog post will explore some ways you can question those standards and find your own beauty!

The media’s unrealistic body image standards

The media’s unrealistic body image standards don’t just affect women: they are toxic for all genders.

Since the beginning of time, unrealistic body standards have been a constant in society and media. In ancient Greece, there was an ideal male physique that consisted of broad shoulders, narrow waist, flat stomach; while most Renaissance paintings depict Christ as slender with delicate skin and rosy cheeks. It is no surprise that these ideals are still perpetuated today through television shows like The Bachelor or by models on the runway wearing tapered jeans and cropped tops — but what does this mean? What about people who don’t fit into these molds?

The pressure to be thin has effects beyond self-esteem — it can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa or binge-eating that can take over a person’s life.

For example, “a male college student who feels the need to ‘bulk up’ or a female athlete whose weight drops below her competition-required level.”

These pressures can lead some people, especially at younger ages, to start smoking cigarettes because it suppresses their appetite. They may also develop unhealthy coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and relentlessly exercising in order to maintain this image.

The media’s unrealistic body image standards don’t just affect women: they are toxic for all genders.

A shadow pointing at a smaller size woman.
Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

How the media affects different people in their lives

Melissa Herb

Spirituality, personal development, and mindset Get UNLIMITED access to Medium and support my writing: