What Influences a Person's Self-Esteem and Body Image?

Seeing yourself can sometimes be a lot harder than simply looking in a mirror. Body image is often decided for us when we are children and in turn, it is one major factor in the development of self-esteem, especially amongst young women. Some people can live a good portion of their lives before they realize that it was not themselves, but many other factors in their culture, that made them feel the way they felt for so long. Recognizing these influences can gradually empower and sometimes even bring to light unnecessary personal struggles such as weight, agility and appearance issues. Teaching children to  see through some of the consumer engines that use body image as a tool to make a profit, potentially warping self-esteem, is essential.

Toys and Books

Take a look at what toys children have been raised with over the years. Girls get beautiful dolls, play makeup and are read books where the handsome prince marries the beautiful princess. Boys play with six-packed army or sports dolls, guns and are read books about conquering things, as well as the handsome prince marrying the beautiful princess. In addition, video and computer games with themes such as becoming a celebrity, meeting a celebrity or living like a celebrity are popular. These messages are paramount in a child’s development and should be considered by parents. Children should still be able to play with these toys and books, but a parallel conversation about how it makes them feel can be ongoing.

Puberty and Hollywood

Puberty is hard enough without the cruelty of fitting or not fitting in with the rest of the peers. Although Hollywood has taken note of the affect it has had on adolescence, it still churns out movies that hint that unless children have the right clothes, the right weight ratio and the right talent, they will not be able to lead a superior life. Keep your children aware of their uniqueness and intelligence.


This is by far the largest culprit of body image and self-esteem. Simply open a magazine or drive past the barrage of billboards displaying waif thin women, sculpted men, and over priced clothing fads that all but guarantee happiness. It is not surprising that these companies spend huge dollars on research to determine the most successful campaigns to enhance their products, regardless of the underlying message it may be emitting. These messages can be outwardly overt or extremely subtle. The trick is to see through these tactics, and understand that enjoying certain products does not and should not, mold a personality.


Eating disorders amongst young women are rampant throughout the world, but mostly in western societies, especially America. This is mainly due to the fact that body image is associated with being thin. Many advocates of healthy body image continue their uphill battle in educating children, but the corporate machine continues to create a vail of confusing images to make children, especially girls, aspire beyond their natural body weight causing severe afflictions such as anorexia and bulimia.


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