How Does Social Media Hurt the Self-Image of Both the Young and the Old?

Young and old, healthy people generally like to look good. There are many ways to look and feel good, some make sense, and some maybe not.

We are constantly getting blasted with ways to look better.  Our society has a way of trying to defeat the inevitable. There are blemish treatments, hair coloring kits, wrinkle creams, acne medicine, diet plans, exercise programs, clothes, shoes, hats, and the list goes on and on.  Is what we have and where we are at, ever enough? Do you ever question, no matter what age you are, “am I enough?”

We typically think of the preteen years as being especially difficult, transitioning from a cute little kid to an independent teenager. Do these feelings of not looking or being enough, ever go away? Can these negative feelings of self-image and self-worth spiral down to places we don’t want to be? How do we pull ourselves up and hear and feel the good things about ourselves?

As we get older, we do hopefully get wiser even though our bodies start wearing down and it’s even more difficult to “look good.”  Some people can look young and vibrant forever, but most will have to face the negative changes in our bodies. The impact of self-image doesn’t go away.  How we perceive and address it is what’s important.

Have you noticed how little kids are brutally honest. They will gently run their little fingers down grandma’s face and innocently state, “your skin is wrinkly grandma”.  It is wrinkly. They are just stating what they see. It’s not a judgment call unless we make it that way.

The book, Can Old Be Beautiful, addresses the doubts posed by society, in this case about gray hair and wrinkles. Little six-year-old Maggie is confused as to why her grandma doesn’t want to look beautiful by washing that gray right out of her hair like the ad says to do. They talk about beautiful things, old things, and old and beautiful things such as castles and majestic mountains. Through discussion, Maggie does see beauty in old things, just like she sees beauty in her grandma, just the way she is.

The messages we hear are getting louder, stronger, and more persistent with the advances of technology.  It’s in our face constantly about all the fixes we should do to ourselves to fit in. This is a difficult message especially for vulnerable kids. Do you wonder why child suicides are at an all-time high? It’s a complex issue and self-image plays into it along with many other things.

Mother’s Day is coming up. Why not get the book Can Old Be Beautiful for mom or grandma. It’s a great book to read to a child, share and discuss with an adult. The pictures in this book are beautiful and the message is even more precious.

Sonja Wendt

Enhancing children’s sensitivity in human interactions one story at a time.

Sonja Wendt

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