Theme for October

Teen Image/Self Esteem

Teen Image and self-esteem ~ two issues SNN student reporters write about most often. Family, peer pressure, advertising, movies/television ~ all play a role in how teens look at themselves. Of these, media images is definitely an area young people are concerned about.

We live in a media-dominated society where our physical attributes, or lack there of, take precedence over our personalities. Where what you wear and how much money you have to spent are important. We are a culture torn between maintaining individuality and succumbing to the media pressure to conform. Today's media paints a stereotypical picture and harsh generalization of the ideal body type, social status, etc. Thus, presenting their more impressionable younger audience with a disturbingly false image of what is realistically attainable.

  • Pictures in magazines, billboards, movies and television shows of the "perfect" girl makes young women feel below par, not good enough, not thin enough.
  • Images of young males dressed in cool clothes, acting sophisticated, in control, strong fill music videos and television shows.

Difficult images to live up to.

There are many things that pressure young people to look good, to achieve, to be ‘perfect'.

  • Parents who tease or constantly tell their children to lose weight, not to dress differently - to ‘fit in'
  • Peers who tease or ostracize a person because of their looks
  • Going too far: Anorexia and Bulimia
  • The right clothes, the right hair, the right look
  • Movies and television shows that portray mostly slim, fashionable young girls
  • Videos that show women as sex objects, men as cool, muscular, strong
  • Advertisements that show only cool guys wearing the latest fashion, driving cool cars ‘gets the girl'
  • Alcohol related advertisements show "cool" images of young adults enjoying great lifestyles while drinking

Write a news, opinion or profile article for SNN on teen image.
Here are some ideas you can use:

  1. Talk about your own personal experience regarding how you look and/or how you feel about yourself. What happened? How did you feel? How are you doing now?

  2. Interview people you know about teen image and how media portrayals affect teen self-perception.

  3. Profile a specific issue related to teen image and self-esteem: Anorexia, Bulimia, anxiety, stress, drinking, depression.

  4. Discuss how young people can address these issues positively. Talk with school counsellors about steps a person can take if they are facing a negative self-image and low self-esteem or how you can help someone you know deal with this issue.

  5. Profile a book, website that provides young people with tools to combat negative feelings, images.

  6. Discuss how you and your friends feel about ads and television shows that confuse young people on how they should look?

  7. Do you feel advertisers and the companies they represent target young people intentionally? Discuss advertising geared at Generation X.

  8. If media portrayals are of concern, what can you, as a young person, and society as a whole, do?

Send SNN your views. You can submit your article through our Editors Desk or Email us at:

If you don't want to write an article, but still want to make your views known, place your comments in our ‘Your Views' section.


Here are some articles written by SNN Reporters on this issue:

Graduate down a Size by Katie Macdonald, St. John's, NF (April 2002)

Freak, Geek or Sheep? The choice is yours. By: Rhea Topolniski, Winnipeg, MB (Jan 2002)

My Latest Experience With Dieting By: Lily Smallwood, Port Saunders, NF (Dec 2001)

To Eat Or Not to Eat By Caitlin M., Toronto ON (Oct 2001)

Image: When The Mirror is All They See By: Lily Smallwood, Port Saunders, NF (June 2001)

Thin is In by: Michelle M., St. John's, NF (April 2001)

Changing The Teen Image By: Danielle McCarthy., St. John's, NF (Jan 2001)

Size Matters by: Allison Barnes, Thunder Bay, ON (Nov 2000)

Secret identities; whose face do you have on? By Katrina Ryan, St. Stephens, NB (April 2000)

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