Masters of the Airbrush

By Erik Fisher, PhD, AKA Dr E

Your kids are inundated with images every day, and the degree to which these images are valid representations of the human form will subtly and obviously affect how they view the world and themselves as they grow up. Some of you may feel that banning ads such as those in Britain is absolutely overblown and a violation of rights. While this was seen as a truth in advertising issue, it is a psychological health issue as well. To many kids and adults, they may not think twice about these ads. To others, they may bring up intense feelings of inadequacy and self-hatred. The fact that we accept these images as acceptable is a sign of our numbness to the alternate realities that are created by the media and advertising.

I remember when doing my graduate research that I felt that surely in 20 years, our society would grow beyond this obsession with our bodies and appearance. I was teaching about airbrushing, and the degree of eating disorders in the modeling industry, and I taught about the excessive pursuit of the male stereotype in body builders. I had believed that we would educate our kids and ourselves about how to feel better from the inside out, but instead, the problems have become worse, in some ways, and not only do young women have to look fit and thin, but even older women are still focused on the same pursuit of physical perfection at the cost of their self-esteem. Just look at the rate of plastic surgeries on everything from facelifts to calf implants, and the age range on these procedures is widening.

Jump on the Bandwagon, Guys

Men and boys are not immune to these issues. Their physique is just focused more on muscular aspects. Realize how the images that they see sell a muscular body that is often unachievable through reasonable means. Even men are going under the knife for various plastic procedures, including pectoral implants.

Imagine if we took the time energy and funds we spend on the way we look outside and focused it on improving our inner beauty? Don’t stay numb to these cultural phenomena that are influencing our kids. Let’s get real.

Here are some tips to pay attention to if you feel concerned about your kids and their body image.

1. Be aware of your and your spouse’s body image issues. Do you talk about your body and how you feel about it in front of them?

2. Do you notice your kids talking about how they look and/or are they preoccupied with their appearance or specific body features?

3. Are their friends focused on their body and/or do they make comments about others’ appearance?

4. Are you and/or any of your kids obsessed with dieting and/or exercise?

These are just a few questions to look at these issues in your family. Often parents, without realizing it, feed their children’s issues, no pun intended. Talk to them, and if you don’t feel equipped to do so, get some help to talk about it before it goes too far.

About the author: Erik Fisher, PhD, aka Dr. E…, is a licensed psychologist and author of two books whose work has been featured NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN. Visit him at to learn more about his new show, Off The Couch with Dr. E… .

Learn more about Dr. E.’s books:

The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With
The Art of Empowered Parenting: The Manual You Wish Your Kids Came With
Price: $16.95
The Art of Empowered Parenting provides a unique look at the impact parents have on their children’s behavior by challenging them to first understand themselves. Information and advice blend with practical tips and exercises to both educate and help parents apply new techniques. Dr. Fisher’s well-known perspectives on power and emotion, as well as discussions on temperament, attachment, and their strategic interaction, provide the basis for a new look on empowered parenting that can make raising any child an easier journey.

The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles
The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict: Understanding Emotions and Power Struggles
Price: $43.95
We all have power struggles affecting each of us in every stage of our life, nearly every day. We all get wrapped up in conflicts, but often have no idea how to resolve them. This book dicusses the “hows” and “whys” of conflict and provides easy-to-use solutions for most situations. The focus is on the role of emotion. Conflict results from the way in which we view our own power, and our views on power are largely influenced by our emotions. So we must begin by looking closely at our emotions. Fisher and Sharp guide us to pinpoint those and see how emotions move us into playing one of the classic roles in conflict – Victim, Persecutor, Instigator or Rescuer. And we learn how emotions can play productive purposes; how they can be used to minimize and remove serious conflict in our lives. The text includes vignettes, anecdotes, personal inventories, illustrations and concrete exercises. While general readers will find this text of interest, it will also provide valuable information for students of psychology, sociology, business management, human resources and family studies.


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