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What do teenagers really think about the images they see? Ottawa students open up about messages from the media and unrealistic expectations

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Justis Graziadei, 17, Hillcrest Secondary School, Ottawa 'Not everybody knows what is fake or not. And they get sucked into it.'

Dave Chan/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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Amany Hamze, 15, Hillcrest Secondary School, Ottawa 'Magazines will show girls, saying, "We love who we are, we are so beautiful,” and then the next page you turn, [the models] are all Photoshopped. At the end, we have to remember that it’s a joke. ... It’s just for us to look at. It’s not something that should effect you in a bad way. ... Be the best you can be but don’t kill yourself to get there, don’t do it in a dangerous way.'

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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Sara Mohamed, 16, Hillcrest Secondary School, Ottawa 'When I was a little girl, I was thinking about morning cartoons and Pokemon cards. But when I see my little cousins and they are asking, "Mom, can you go out and buy me a makeup set?" It’s changing really fast. ... When did skinny equal pretty? Nobody has the right to say what is pretty and what is not.'

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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Shannen Maili-McAleer, 16, John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa ‘I don’t think you should base your self-esteem on what other people say is beautiful.”

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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Paul De Sadeleer, 17, John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa ‘I would be dishonest if I’m saying when you see a girl on a magazine and she’s very good-looking, you don’t wish there was someone like that. ... [But] I hope I would never put that kind of pressure on a girl.’

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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Alyssa Spagnolo, 18, John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa ‘Girls analyze their bodies a lot more. Guys might say, “I wish I was little more muscular.” But with girls, it’s like, “My thighs are too big. I have too many zits.”’

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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Karmen Brar, 17, John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa ‘The media doesn’t realize that we’re starting to understand that everything is fake. So when they make it more real, it drives us to that product.’

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail/dave chan The Globe and Mail

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