We’re deluged with images of’ beauty ‘. No wonder so many of us feel so bad | Dawn Foster

We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster

Adverts for weight-loss and cosmetic procedures bombard us on social media, undermining our self-confidence, says the Guardian columnist Dawn Foster

We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster

In the early 2000 s, the internet was a key component of my teenage life: many evenings we annoyed my friends’ mothers by hogging the phone line and spending hours talking to schoolmates on MSN Messenger. But during the day, we didn’t use the internet: we had clunky phones that could only call and text. So I wasn’t bombarded 24/7 with images of purportedly perfect-looking women. Few of us bothered with teen magazines bar read the problem pages.

Today on social media adolescents and adults are spate with images of traditionally “beautiful” people, along with endless adverts for cosmetic procedures such as Botox, and lip and cheek fillers. And this week a survey for the Mental Health Foundation found that one in eight adults has thought about killing themselves because they were distressed over their body image. The foundation’s chief executive, Mark Rowland, said:” There has always been idealised body representation across media, but it’s the quantity of those images and the frequency in which we consider them- that’s what we’re worried about .” He also warned that social media platforms were” increasingly consumerist, increasingly celebrity-orientated, increasingly focused on external appearances “.

People have always worried about their appearance, but the survey confirms what many have long suspected: being bombarded with images of the “perfect” body shape, together with adverts for weight- loss apps and cosmetic procedures, can have a huge negative effect. One in five people told the foundation that images on social media had made them worry about their body image, and one in ten females said they had self-harmed because of this.

And it isn’t just the imagery. Any woman who speaks out on social question can face victimisation. One of my friends recently had a man write extensive abuse under photos of her brother’s wedding on her Facebook page. My Instagram is locked after a spate of people wrote eugenicist arguments under photos I had taken in hospital, stating that disabled people should die out.

It’s obvious, too, that more and more females are having cosmetic procedures at a younger age. Many nail bars, hairdressers and beauty parlours offer Botox injections. The adverts that target young women normalise the procedures: surely they should not be seen as akin to getting your nails done.

We all deserve to have confidence in our body image. Social media platforms have to be more responsible over the adverts they carry, especially those targeted at young people; and television and film should show a greater diversity of bodies. We all predominately share photos where we think we look our best. Without being mawkish, everyone is attractive and beautiful to someone else, and we all deserve to have confidence in our body image. Casting directors should work to include those who look like the general public- those shows that do so, such as Line of Duty and EastEnders, are a welcome change from the norm. Real beauty is far more encompassing than the images we are deluged with.

And the industry promoting Botox and other cosmetic procedures should be more strongly governed. One company has bombarded me with adverts offering interest-fee credit for several procedures. Young women should not be targeted by these messages , normalising painful procedures by persuading people they are ugly, that they have flaws in their face that should be eliminated.

Teenagers are notoriously image-conscious and also intensely worried about their body as it goes through changes. But adults, too, are not immune. Ultimately, different people find different people attractive: we should all remember that beauty and attraction are wide-ranging- even if you don’t love yourself, the chances are that someone else will find you beautiful.

* Dawn Foster is a Guardian columnist.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo @samaritans. org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster
We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster
We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster
We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster
We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster

We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster

We're Deluged With Images Of' Beauty '. No Wonder So Many Of Us Feel So Bad | Dawn Foster

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