One topic that everyone seems to be talking about nowadays in the issue of negative self-image. It seems like everything is being blamed for this epidemic, from the media to peer pressure. While I think these can all be valid causes, I believe the issue is more deeply rooted in our nature and society and can not be solved simply by removing computer enhanced models from magazines.
In my experience, everyone goes through phases of "bitter self-examination". These phases can last anywhere from years to a few days or even moments. It is during these times that the individual is acutely aware of whatever flaws they believe they possess and enter a slump of sorts because of it. This tends to happen frequently in the teenage/puberty years when changes occur and all that jazz. Even the most confident person will undergo these phases. I, who generally consider myself a fairly confident person, periodically feel inadequate and almost depressed. Normally, I have a realistic self-image and feel fairly content with myself. I acknowledge my faults and move on with life. Then there are times when I feel as if nothing I say or do is right, that I am the biggest jerk on the planet, and that I will die alone.
Do I blame media? Not entirely. I believe that one can always improve oneself if one can maintain a healthy goal to achieve. Unfortunately, the goals we set for ourselves are often not feasible and can lead to a slippery-slope of self-image issues. Do I blame peer pressure? More than media, however, much of this pressure is applied unintentionally. The real issue is that we are missing real love in our lives. All of us know someone who we wish to imitate in some way because we crave things. Primarily, we crave love. We seek this love by imitating and seeking qualities that we believe will bring us this love, be it a thinner waistline, larger muscles, sexual promiscuity, or prettier looks. These things only bring about temporary "love", if you can even call it that. I'm not saying that any of these things are necessarily bad, but they certainly can be if not sought the right way and for the right reasons.
I believe that we enter periods of self-image depression because the search for love can be difficult and last for what seems to be a lifetime. We feel that we can't be loved. But this simply isn't true. The simple fact that we feel so empty during these times and so broken is proof that we were meant to be loved. We can't be whole without it. The journey may be a trying one, but those who stay steadfast in a healthy quest for real love will find what they seek.