Do music videos promote low self-esteem?
4 health and fitness industry experts have their say.
This morning as I huffed and puffed up invisible stairs, I stumbled across a news channel where a female presenter was complaining she felt “fatter” at the gym.
“I avoid the gym during the holidays,” she explains, “Watching those music video clips during my work-outs…those impossibly flawless people make me feel fat.”
Personally, I find the constant parade of slim beautiful bodies motivating as I’m trying to obtain their physique for a competition, however I do see the flip side where some women may feel pressured by the imagery to look a certain way or be a certain age.
Interested to get the perspective from individuals who live and breath body image and physical beauty, I asked 2 award winning female fitness models and 2 mental health psychologists for their opinion on this complex topic:
Could seeing attractive, skinny women via media outlets (such as magazines, video clips, etc) impact negatively on how “regular” women view themselves?
- Luke T, Personal Trainer and Mindset Coach
- Michelle Espino, Bikini Fitness Model
- Kerry P, Provisional Psychologist
- Angélica Orozco, Fitness Model-Sport and Nutrition Specialist
“The issue is not about the external influences that exist around us (magazines, videos, etc), but rather how women perceive themselves in the mirror on a daily basis.”
It is this mindset that promotes either a positive, progressive change (i.e. healthy self confidence and body image) or a downward spiral of yo-yo “fad” dieting. Weight fluctuations ultimately harms the body by impairing thyroid function (the hormone that regulates your metabolic rate), further altering how your body burns fat.
Change your perception to how you view yourself and your procedures will subsequently change: look at the bigger picture, set small achievable goals and embrace each step that you take. There may be peaks and troughs but, if you chart your progress over a period of time, they will look something like a undulating hill reaching towards the peak of the mountain.
If external influences are a source of your insecurities, limit your exposure to them and focus on what you CAN do. What your SOLUTIONS are, what your first/ next step is. Only use these external influences if they motivate and propel you.
Everyone’s journey, change and progress is relative to where they are at. Enjoy this journey of yours, because it is YOUR journey by YOUR rules and as the saying goes..
‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ Lau Tzu
Revel in each little step that you take. Share it with the world.
Luke is a dedicated strength and mindset coach for Australian Strength Performance (ASP).
A passionate body builder and proudly vegan, he has enjoyed success at the inargural International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) Victorian Championships, placing 3rd in his category and winning “Best Routine & Poser”.
Read his biography at the ASP website or visit his Facebook page.
“Interesting enough I am trying to balance my weight and fat gain at the moment- I’m currently off-season and not looking to shred just yet.”
My issue right now is I need to get bigger, so I need to really eat to achieve gains. It’s difficult because I got used to a lean body for so long…I am hoping once this rotation is done my next off season should be similar to on season.
Attractive skinny women wear the latest in fashion, wear perfectly styled hair and makeup. They are portrayed in media as hot sexy and carefree. They are always side by side with good looking men. I think “regular” women may have some questions of self confidence and lack it at times when they see this often in media.
Michelle Espino is a bikini fitness model in Canada. She advocates healthy living and lifestyle.
To read more of her articles on contest prep, recipes, workouts and healthy living tips you can read and follow her blog.
For day to day inspirations and workout tips you can follow her Instagram.
“I should start off by saying this: from what I’ve been taught in my training, people’s internal responses to any external situations are directly influenced by their interpretation of the situation.
This interpretation of an event is further influenced by the person’s view of the world, as well as their underlying beliefs about themselves. For example, (an example I always use with clients): you’re walking down a hallway and see a colleague of yours, you smile at them but they don’t smile back, what would be your first thought? Do you assume that they didn’t see you because they are preoccupied and have something on their mind? Or do you assume that they don’t like you very much? The way you interpret why your colleague didn’t acknowledge you depends on the following:
1) How confident you are about your ability to maintain a friendly relationship with other people;
2) Your beliefs (or doubts) about your likeability; and
3) How you think you are perceived by others.
The way we respond (and react to) socially-prescribed norms of beauty depend entirely on how we see ourselves and our perception of our own attractiveness.
A person who is confident in the way they look (regardless of how attractive they are, as rated by others), will probably not flinch twice in response to these external triggers. On the other hand, a person who is insecure or harbor negative views of their appearance (even if they are judged to be “attractive” by others) will most likely feel intimidated by such a sight. And of course, others, like you, who are striving to accomplish a goal may be motivated by these images and use them as a driving force to continue improving themselves.
In short, no amount of images could reduce a person into seeing themselves in a negative light if they are secure in the way they look. On the other hand, an attractive person could immediately evaluate themselves in a harsh and critical manner if they are inherently insecure about the way they look.
I’ve worked with children, adults with and without mental illnesses (some of whom are addicted to drugs and alcohol) and I can say for certain that almost everyone I’ve worked with has struggled (or is struggling) with self-esteem and confidence issues. So the topic does not exclusively pertain to women but also men, and it’s across all ages.
Kerry is currently completing her Master of Counselling Psychology and a provisionally-registered psychologist.
“In my opinion there are always 2 sides of the coin and there is always a different perception depending on the way you see & feel about yourself which is very subjective.”
If you feel “fat” whenever you see a slim woman & therefore you avoid going to the gym it means you are comparing yourself with someone else and that’s where the issue starts. I can understand it might be intimidating to see a woman slimmer and maybe even more attractive / younger than you but this is a fact you cannot change because there will always be someone looking slimmer & more attractive than you.
My recommendation will be to first turn it into a positive approach and use it as a way to get motivated to be healthier & fit. Secondly, focus on your body & look and not on anybody else’s and set your own goals on how you would like to look / improve physically.
Once you start taking care of your body; losing body fat and getting more fit you will feel sexier and more comfortable with yourself. I guarantee you that, so get back to the gym to sculpt a fit body!
Angélica Orozco is a prolific fitness and bikini model and has claimed numerous titles across USA and Europe. A passionate sport nutrition specialist & fitness consultant, she possesses extensive experience within the nutritional & physical training field and contributes as an avid writer. In addition, Angélica enjoys a successful career as Process Coordinator at a clinical research pharmaceutical company.
Follow Angélica on her Facebook page or website.
Awards: Fitness Champion – Venezuela 2001 – 1st Place Fitness Bikini Europe – Milan 2011 – 2nd Place Fitness Bikini Florida – USA 2011 – 2nd Place Fitness Model Florida – USA 2011 – 3rd Place Fitness Model – European Championship – Nice 2012 – 3rd Place Fitness Bikini Open Category – European Championship – Nice 2012 – 6th Place
- Chick lit ‘harms body image’, study finds (guardian.co.uk)
- Low esteem and the factory (sethgodin.typepad.com)
- Your General Self-Esteem Is Different Than Your Body-Esteem (mariaslastdiet.com)