Is Media Ruining Body Image?: Interview with Ryan Sturgeon

Desiree Brightnose: So do you feel that media, as in advertising and social media, affect individual’s body image?


Ryan Sturgeon: Yeah, I believe that it has a huge impact on the way that we see ourself. And it’s a loaded question, I think I’ll answer it in a couple different ways.


With body image, a lot of times you see things in the media that don’t portray typical people. It’s very over representative looking at the kind of “perfect body”.


What everybody should inspire to be. And they don’t show a lot of imagery with people with disability, people with different body sizes and shapes, people even of colour sometimes.


And so you see a certain image and they try to sell products too, and they are kind of saying inexplicitly in their advertising, that if you look this way, you will be a better person in a certain way. So if you look this way, then you’ll have money, you’ll have love, you’ll have all the things in life that all the people want to have in life.


And so, in advertising, you have somebody that already comes into the situation where they look a certain way and then, of course, they have photoshop and various things like that. They spend hours and hours and hours trying to make this person look a certain way.


And after their many hours of trying – then they take their pictures that are all stage. And then afterward they photoshop for another few hours. And so, the outcome is very, very unrealistic. It’s not an image of a person, its an image of an ideal. And when you’re comparing ourselves to an ideal, obviously we are gonna fall short.


So I think that its a real problem is telling us that we are not good enough. If you want to have an adolescent to become depressed, give them a beauty magazine.


So I think it does hugely affect our self-image. I’ll give you a statistic, one in two teen girls according to Canadian Pediatrics Society. And one in four teenage boys have tried dieting to change the shape of their body. And so for girl, it’s a little bit different. Often times it’s to look slimmer, to look sexier and so on and so forth.


But for boys its to beef up to look more masculine. And so it’s that stereotypical masculinity and femininity thing, where a boy has to look big and muscular. And this all comes at a time when teenagers – there bodies are changing a lot. 


And they look out of proportion because of all these changes. So I think it’s even more harmful for the adolescent population for sure.


Brightnose: Thank you so much for your time, Ryan. I really appreciate it.


Sturgeon: No problem, thanks for coming by.