Archive for March 31, 2014

Media Add Targets Male Body Image

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer.

Media literacy is such a buzz-term in our society, that to many people, particularly young people, it may feel like a broken record: “Yes, we know advertisements objectify women.” “Yes, we know diet commercials make impossible claims and set unreasonable expectations for beauty and thinness”.

Are we diluting the impact of the media literacy message by repeating it over and over? Maybe. At the same time, however, media messages are changing, and our ability to assess and interpret those messages must evolve as well.                                                                        

Case in point, a recent print ad for Diet Pepsi shows a sunny pier on a jewel-blue ocean, a splash in the water nearby, as if someone just dove in, and on the pier, a male beer belly “suit”, presumably taken off by the man who just leapt into the water. The tagline states Unpimp your body. More and more, men and especially adolescent and young adult men are the target for body image messages. In this case, the messages are unequivocal: a round stomach is undesirable, a round stomach is something a man has “done to himself”, a man who wants to be seen at the beach would not have a protruding belly, and lastly, a drinking Diet Pepsi is a choice any man can make to remove his excess stomach.

The ad conveys a somewhat lighthearted tone; maybe Pepsi wants men to find it funny. In their use of the word “unpimp” (not grammatically a word, but that is beside the point), it is clear that Pepsi is targeting younger males, ones who are familiar with current slang. While it is very possible that the makers of the ad do not intend to convey any potentially damaging message, it is equally possible that they were very precise in their choice of imagery and tone.  Diet sodas have historically been viewed as feminine beverages, and were marketed as such – a diet soda is something a “normal” and weight-conscious woman drinks, and is a way for a women to satisfy her thirst without consuming “bad” calories. This ad takes the same type of message, but shifts it entirely onto men. Pepsi wants to access a previously untapped market, and does so by targeting a common body image insecurity in men.

Visually, the ad is very striking, and seems to say that a man is only defined by whether or not he has a protruding stomach. So much of what we teach youth about media literacy focuses on the so-called disembodied woman, such as a torso, legs, or the arch of a nude back. The diet Pepsi ad is the same strategy, but directed at an entirely different audience, one that has never had to contend with such a level of scrutiny. Eating disorder specialists and clinicians are now saying that, in the eyes of media advertisers at least, being male now is like what being female was in the 1960s and 70s. The male body is analyzed, parsed and dissected for its aesthetic value, and therefore its intrinsic value. A man should be slender but muscular, “manly” but in touch with modern feminist trends, and above all, never pudgy.

It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of such a culture shift will be, but now more than ever, media literacy must evolve to address the body image distortion taking place among both women and men.


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Homage to my Imperfect Hands

Written by TEPF Volunteer.

My Hands. As a child I always had a hard time accepting my hands. Sometimes today, I still have a hard time accepting the hands that I have. Let me tell you why.

For some reason, my hands are always Dry.Cold.Cracked.Clammy.Red.Purple(especially in the cold months).

When I was a child, my mother was always buying special loations and creams to put on my hands. To try to sooth them. I hated them. The greasy loations and the fact that I was getting the message that my hands were not good enough and they needed to be fixed or healed.

With all this attention placed on my hands as far back as I can remember, I developed a deep embarassment for my hands. The worst thing that could happen in a classroom activity was a teacher telling us students to hold hands. I was always hiding my hands with my shirtsleeves or sitting on them. Even today sometimes it’s difficult for me to hold hands with my partner or shake someone elses hand in a greeting, without being worried about how my hands feel or what they look like.

Although now through body love, I am much better about embracing the hands that I have. Afterall, they help me with almost every task that I have to do every day. My hands help me do amazing things, even if the aren’t perfect.

They have helped me become a master pool player.

They help me write letters to my loved ones and play the violin.

They help me knit hats and scarves.

My hands help me tie my shoes and type on this keyboard.

They fit perfectly into the embrace of my partners hands, to share a loving connection.

Now I can accept that although my hands might not be the softest hands in the world or the most delicate, I can appreciate all the things that that they help me do.

That is most important and this is my homage to my imperfect hands!


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Media Monday: Desserts as Humor

Food as HumorSubmitted by Volunteer Alyssa Perry

Food is often associated with stress and anxiety on many television series and in movies. Eating or even binging on boxes of chocolate, a large piece of cake, or other types of desserts is highly associated with these emotions in the media.  What’s wrong with eating chocolate or cake?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a truffle, a piece of cake with a friend, or a dessert that you had fun baking simply to enjoy food.  But, these types of foods are often portrayed in a negative light as something to be ashamed of eating or only eaten in the context of negative emotions in social media.

If a character in the media is shown eating desserts and they are not stressed, it is normally designated to the characters that are overweight.   A good example of this is in the well-known TV sitcom Friends.  The character Monica is slender and a professional chef although she is hardly seen actually eating foods or desserts.  Monica is portrayed as being overweight when she was younger in flashbacks, and it often shows her eating desserts or talking about eating them.  It is supposed to part of the comedy of the sitcom that Monica’s character used to be overweight and ate a lot of food.  There are many references throughout the sitcom about when she used to be “fat” and how much she used to eat.

This double standard is not healthy.  It makes the association and stigma that, if someone is overweight, they must be that way because they eat too much food or obsess about food and desserts.  It also makes the association that if a “normal” weight person chooses to eat dessert, it is only because of stress and negative emotions.  The truth is that people of all shapes and sizes can enjoy desserts and can choose to eat them for a variety of reasons.  With the media only showing us a limited way on how to view food, our thoughts about how we should think about food or others may be skewed.  Becoming aware of the messages the media is sending us is the first step to not letting our views get too distorted.  When we find ourselves laughing at the examples above (making fun of overweight people for eating too much or making fun of people for eating desserts when they are stressed out and anxious) it may be good to challenge why we find it humorous and remind ourselves what real life can look like outside of a television series.

You Are Enough

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer.

It’s hard to love my body sometimes because of outside factors and being pre-occupied with what other people think. But, I do my best to remember that I should really only worry about what I think of myself.

“Comparison is the theif of Joy”

-Theodore Roosevelt

6 Words. That’s It.

Read Them Again.

Can You Relate?


We walk around and hear all of these messages that catapult us into thinking that we are not “enough” of anything. Not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not perfect enough, not together enough, not planned out enough, not quite wealthy enough, not focused enough, not good enough at X,Y,Z…

Theodore Roosevelt reminds me that as long as I am enough for myself and that I know I am worth it, that is what matters most and that is where my joy lives.





Media Monday: Considering Lammily

Submitted by Volunteer Lindsey Tradup

Whether you are male or female, we have all grown up knowing who Barbie is. She’s tall, blonde, skinny at the waist and large in the chest and, as children, we idolized her. Whether we wanted to be just like her or we wanted to date someone just like her, she has been placed on a pedestal for decades. (Did I mention that she never ages?) Barbie has been around since 1959, and throughout the years has progressively become more glamourized.

Last summer, artist Nickolay Lamm created a “Normal Barbie” that he is calling “Lammily”. She has the proportions of an average 19 year old woman, wears very light make up and dresses unpretentiously. Lamm has just begun a campaign to fund production of the new doll. He hopes to raise $95,000, with the long term goal of selling them in retail stores.  The purpose of his creation is to show children that average is beautiful, bring a sense of reality back into their lives, and promote a healthy lifestyle.

With all of these new diet crazes, reality TV shows and photos aimed at losing weight, many of us forget that, contrary to how they’re advertised, these things are not real. A diet is not something you go on and off of; a diet is what you eat.  And let’s be honest, with the massive amounts of Photoshop tools readily available, it can be hard to distinguish what is actual reality.  Ideally, this new doll could begin a new era of self-respect and positive body image. It is still unclear how children will react to Lammily, but Lamm has stated that his cousins like the designs because they look more like themselves, and she looks more friendly and inviting than Barbie.

The overall effect of Lammily could be just what we need to implement a change. If we start believing at a young age that it’s OK to have flaws, after all that’s what makes us unique, then we can start to realize as a society that it’s not about what we look like on the outside, but how we utilize the qualities we have on the inside.




Lauren Le Vine, R. (2014, March 5). Yahoo! Shine.   Retrieved March 6, 2014, from

Mattel, Inc. (2012). Barbie. Retrieved March   7, 2014, from Barbie Media:

Mintz, Z. (2014, March 5). International Business   Times. Retrieved March 7, 2014, from