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Body image, media and sexuality

Media messages can provide the wrong information about body image and appropriate ways of behaving. Being aware of the messages and separating the fact from the fiction is important.

How do media messages affect us?

We are bombarded everyday with relationship and body image messages from television, music videos, CDs, DVDs, magazines, the internet and more.

These messages can provide the wrong information about ideal body shapes, styles of dress or appropriate ways of behaving.

Industries and the media are getting smarter all the time at putting images in front of consumers.

Why should I be aware of media messages?

Sometimes you might not even be aware they're doing it or how false and artificial the images and messages from industries and the media can be.

We need to make sense of these messages and know how to separate fact from fiction.

Why is media literacy important?

Media literacy is a skill that is taught as part of comprehensive sexuality education/mātauranga hōkakatanga. Media literacy helps us to interpret the messages we're receiving and to understand what is real and what is not.

Does pornography have the same approach?

Yes, pornography has hidden messages that can be extremely negative. Some of these are:

  • sex without responsibility is ok
  • sex is about fulfilling male desires and is not mutually pleasurable
  • women are sexual objects and not people
  • showing body types that are unrealistic for many people
  • showing body parts outside the norm.

Watching pornography without understanding how harmful the hidden messages can be, can have a negative impact on attitudes, values and sexual behaviour.  It can affect what people expect from a relationship and sex in reality.

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