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uniqueStruggling with self-image? I’m sure every young man or woman reading this article can come up with a whole list of physical attributes that are considered desirable, beautiful, handsome or cool, based on what society says is the ‘ideal image.’

The Impact of Advertising
The purpose of advertising is to promote and sell products and/or lifestyles. In their efforts to promote and sell, advertisers create visual images that distort reality and create unobtainable standards for both men and women.

A majority of what we see is airbrushed, cropped, re-touched, digitally enhanced, etc. What’s interesting is that, although these images and graphics are not real, they still have the power to shape our mindsets about who we are and who we expect ourselves, and even others, to be.

Everyone, at one time or another has been or will be under the influence of these artificial images and problems arise when we start viewing ourselves in light of the media’s standards, which are typically based upon false realities.

Alice’s Story
Alice (not her real name) writes: “During my first year at university, I struggled tremendously with my self-image. I was desperate to fit in and became completely focused on looking like the other girls on campus. I began wearing what I thought would make me more fashionable like the other girls, often buying clothes I could not afford, to look cool.

Not only did I transform the way I dressed, but I also became obsessed with exercising, losing a total of ten kilograms that year. Although being slimmer made me feel more confident in my physical appearance, I was surprised to realise I was never truly satisfied with who I was becoming. In all truth, I felt worse about myself because I was looking to clothes and a slimmer body to define me.”

So what’s the Answer?

Lessen, or even completely eliminate the media’s grip on your life by the following:

1. Be more aware of the magazines you flip through. Trash the ones that tempt you to compare or feel inadequate.
2. Monitor the types of movies and/or music you immerse yourself in, avoiding whatever fills your mind with harmful images.
3. Change your internal voice from negative thoughts about yourself to only positive, based on what God says about you, not the media.

The key, is realising YOU have been designer made by the Ultimate Designer. When you realize this, you are acknowledging that YOU have worth and value that goes beyond your physical appearance. YOU are a young woman or man who is precious and honoured in God’s sight (Isaiah 43:4). Every part of you, from your hair to your personality, to that laugh you can’t stand has been all a part of His plan. How do I know? Because God said it! He says YOU have been made fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14).

The Designer has a plan that is so unique for YOUR life (Psalm 138:8). Comparing yourself to others and the images you see in the magazines will only distract you from living the life that he has designed for you even before you were born. YOUR job is to take hold of all He has to offer you. Enjoy every moment. Look to Him, and Him alone, to show you how you should live.