The Weekly Spark: Tune out the media for a little bit

80% of women feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty ad.  $20 billion is spent on beauty marketing in the US annually.  It takes just one 30 minute television program to negatively impact a girl or woman’s self-esteem.

Corporations spend an incredible amount of money to tell us to aspire to a certain unattainable beauty standard.  And we buy it.  Literally.  We make a huge investment in the beauty/body industries and one of the major dividends is that it doesn’t actually make us feel better.  It makes us feel worse.  It keeps us wanting, yearning, chasing, empty.

And then here is the irony.  What we see in those ads is not what we will get from those products because all of those after photos aren’t just after the product has been used.  They are after the lighting has been done up, after the model has been handled by professionals, after the picture has been photoshopped.  Infinite afters that we don’t get in life.

But print media isn’t the only medium that makes us feel adequate.  There’s television and movies where women have been styled and prepped by experts once again (and aided by professionals outside of their screen time to keep them physically maintained for what has been deemed screen time acceptable).  Heck, we can feel bad about ourselves by surfing the internet, by reading someone’s blog post or Facebook update and interpreting it to mean that her life is perfect compared to ours.

Sometimes, all of our access to information really isn’t the best thing in the world.  And yet it is so hard to moderate it without being deliberate.

So, today, I want you be find a chance in the next week to be really deliberate.  My students just finished a 48 hour media fast and while I won’t ask you to go 48 hours without media, I do want you to go 4 hours without media- no television, movies, internet (you can answer email or text a friend)- so no social media, magazines, newspapers, music.  For four hours, do not allow yourself to be exposed- even subconsciously like the ads on the side of Facebook- to any messages about how you should be or how your life should look.  Just live your life rather than watch how others live it or listen to the expectations.

How much media do you take in and what do you think its impact is on you?  Can you go on a four hour media fast?  When will you do it?  And if you come back later to share your experience, how did it go?  What was the hardest thing to go without?  What did you discover during or after the fast?  In what ways do your media choices influence you?  How can you moderate that?

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