The media sends a variety of messages.  Some of these messages say to young people (without using words): “If you are not like (fill in the name of a famous person), you are not good or worthy.

It is your responsibility to make sense of these messages for yourself.  When you see an advertisement on television or in a magazine, examine it with a critical eye.  Think about what it is really saying.

You must learn to separate fiction from reality and use your best judgment.  For example, understand that most of the media you are exposed to does not show people in a realistic way.  Characters on television and in movies are often shown with “perfect” bodies.  Photographs in magazines or billboards are edited on a computer to erase flaws and imperfections.

Popular media plays a role in shaping the person you become.  This is very true.  As you grow up and look for ways to create and define yourself, media can have a major influence on your identity.

An identity is a person’s individuality or personality.  Your personal identity is the way that you see yourself.  This is important because it affects what you believe you can be, do and achieve in life.

We are surrounded by all kinds of images in popular media.  They can influence the way we dress and how we act.  Without a strong sense of ourselves, creating an identity can be difficult.

Young people actively and creatively sample parts of popular media as they produce their individual identities.  The media provides many options for who and what you can be.  But you must be careful.  Some messages promote smoking & drug and alcohol use.  Others promote unhealthy attitudes about sexuality and violence.

All popular media isn’t bad.  Media can show you things to aspire to be in life.  It can inspire you to set goals for yourself.  Media can also motivate you to reach your highest potential.  Popular media can spark ideas for a future career, introduce you to places in the world that you’d one day like to explore, and encourage you to try new things that will lead you to grow in some way.

Remember that you must always be critical.  Reject the images and messages that lower the standards for what you want to be, do and achieve in your life. Instead, aim for what will bring you closer to reaching your highest potential.

If being your best self is your intention (which it should be), what you choose to watch, read, or listen to must be specific.  Look for the positive images in popular media because they do exist.  Create the person you want to be…and be the best at it. 

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