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How does social media affect our body image?

Kaya Purchase on the deceptive and distorting effects of the digital age

“At some point, we must all deal with illness, ageing and the finiteness of life itself. To prepare for this conflict with life’s vicissitudes, we must find meaning and purpose that transcend the acquisition of thinness and beauty.”

Katherine Zerbe, psychoanalyst and author of Body Betrayed

Advertising is invasive. It is so intrinsic in our Western lifestyle that sometimes it’s difficult to actually identify its influence on our decision-making and outlook. If you’ve grown up surrounded by it, it’s as if its messages are hard-wired into the subconscious. And the main message it gives out is ‘perfection’, or rather a striving for perfection – ‘Buy this and you’ll look like this… use these and you’ll lose those extra pounds… drive this car and you’ll get the girl/job/road-trip that makes you feel like you’re living Easy Rider, except with a radio and heated seats.’ Advertising doesn’t so much sell a specific product, it sells the concept of being closer to perfection and the idea that once you reach this evasive state, you will be happier. It taps into our personal insecurities and then dresses itself as the solution. Whereas, we all know, deep down, that true happiness isn’t synonymous to perfection and will never be achieved by the obtainment of goods.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Be Kind - June 2019
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