How Society Affected Your Self-Esteem - dummies

How Society Affected Your Self-Esteem

By S. Renee Smith, Vivian Harte

Throughout your life, you received messages about yourself from society at large. And these messages were more than happy to emphasize that something was lacking in you.

You may not realize how deeply these products and their messages registered in your mind. Even if you don’t eat fast food, when you pass the golden arches, you know a McDonald’s is located there. When you hear a jingle for a product, you picture that product in your mind. If you’re like many people, you experience a strong desire for the food or drink you see in a television commercial.

Here’s something interesting. A study done in 2010 in Australia found that preschool children between the ages of 3 and 5 knew exactly which logo corresponded with brands such as McDonald’s and Disney. They could pair logos with products even when the products had nothing to do with children, such as ABC News and Toyota. Imagine that!

So how does this affect self-esteem? Well, think about the commercials you see and hear. Beautiful women and handsome men are unhappy until they use a product that then brings an attractive person to their side. They tell you that their products will make you better. They do this by making you first think that something is wrong with you. Only if you buy their products will you feel better and attract other people.

Take a moment to recall magazine ads you’ve seen. Did you know that airbrushing techniques are used on most of the models because this beauty is unachievable? These techniques change such things as the model’s hair, waist, and hips.

In fact, a study by the beauty brand Dove found that more than two-thirds of women suffer from low self-confidence about their bodies. Ads made them feel self-conscious about their appearance and inadequate. And who can blame them? The advertising industry makes people feel inadequate so they’ll buy its products. That’s specifically its purpose!

The ads you see can very well have a negative effect on your sense of self-worth.

And you can’t get away from these messages because they’re all around you. You hear them on the radio in your car, and you see them on billboards, on television, in magazines, and on social media. It’s easy to believe that you’re not good enough and that something is missing in you that only the advertiser’s product can fulfill.

In your notebook, draw a line down the middle of a page. On the left, write “What I experienced from the media” and on the right, write “How I reacted.” Think about the types of messages you’ve received over the years and how you responded to them with the way you thought, talked, or acted.

After you’ve made your list, write down on the bottom of the page how you intend to change the way you respond to any messages you know are damaging to your self-esteem.

Now it’s time to put your past into perspective and create a new point of view about what happened to you in your younger years. You can’t change the past, but you can look back and draw strength from your victories and obstacles that you overcame.

In your notebook, write about situations that you handled well in your childhood and what strengths you gained. Concerning things that led to low self-esteem, what did you learn about how to do things differently? How are you living your life now? Are you treating your children differently than the way you experienced life when you were a child? How are the past and the present similar?