Student: Chrisotpher Ng
Student Number: n7688687
Tutor: Judith Meiklejohn

“Beautiful” tells a story of people who are fighting against low self-esteem and insecurity issues, the main message of this song is about inner beauty and not letting other people’s opinions and words disturb one’s peace of mind. The video opens with Aguilera speaking the line “don’t look at me”, followed by scenes of her singing in a room intercut with self image-related sequences of other people. An underweight girl examines herself in a mirror, and punch through it eventually; a skinny boy stands lifting weights in a room plastered with images of bodybuilders; a girl rips out pages of women’s magazines and throws them into a fire; a girl is bullied by several peers; a Goth with piercings sits at the back of a bus while several people gets up and move away; and a man putting on makeup, a wig and women’s clothing.

Public health Issue
This song shows how much pressure young people this generation (generation Y) are suffering from, due to dissatisfaction with body image. In the video some look perfectly healthy but they may be mentally ill. Poor body image can have range of negative effects leading to mental issues, such as developing eating disorder, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem (Better Health Channel, 2010); and according the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010), almost one in four (26%) young Australians aged 16 to 24, approximately 650,000 adolescents experienced mental illnesses in 2007. These mental illnesses are the major causes of premature suicide, and according to the Better Health Channel (2010), one in ten (10%) people affected by mental illness commits suicide. The increase of premature suicide rates is alarming globally (Wasserman, Cheng and Jiang, 2005), and raised many public health practitioner’s awareness, research has shown that it is closely linked with the increase of mental illness and negative body image (Wasserman, Cheng and Jiang, 2005). When negative body image seems to be the basis of this issue, it is also very difficult for young people to overcome and maintain healthy thoughts and behaviour, due to the many distractions and disturbance in this complex society, injecting normative misperceptions regarding norms for ideal body image.

Literature Review
Current Study on Body Image in Generation Y
Body image is a multidimensional construct (Bergstrom and Neighbors, 2006); it often refers to a person’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings about his or her body (Grogan, 2008). According to Commonwealth of Australia (2010), based on the National Survey of Young Australians 2009, carried out by Mission Australia organisation, showed that body image is more of a concern for people aged 20-24 (28.8%) than people aged 15-19 (27.4%) and people aged 11-14 (23.7%); also 45% women and 23% men showed dissatisfied with their current body image. The study was based on 47,735 young people aged 11 to 24 in Australia, conducted in a questionnaire form. The questions relating to what young people value, their concerns and their sources of advice presented respondents with a list of options which they were asked to rank in order of importance (Hampshire and Di Nicola, 2011). Another study about young Australians’ body image conducted by the University of Queensland, School of Psychology, show similar results. The study was conducted with 76 men and female age from 17-25 years. The methodology of the study was a convenience sampling, observing the types of magazines participants purchase and their opinion on advertising and the media. The results show that body image was the most significant concern for Australian adolescences, and estimated that 40-70% of adolescents in Western countries are dissatisfied with their appearance (Diedrichs, 2011). To sum up, Generation Y are less satisfied with their body image, and studies show that negative body image are associated with mental problems and suicide, which will be discussed in further content.

Current Studies on Mental Health Status in Generation Y
“Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (World Health organisation, 2007)). Mental illness describes “a number of diagnosable disorders that significantly interfere with an individual's cognitive, emotional or social abilities” (council of Australian Governments, 2006).

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010), 26 per cent of people aged between 16 to 24, approximately 650,000 adolescents experienced mental illnesses in 2007. In the report it also stated that, 76% of people who experience mental disorder during their lifetime will first develop a disorder before the age of 25 years, eroding quality of life by affecting their self-confidence and independence, social and family relationships, as well as their education and employment. Among all mental issues, Anxiety disorders were the most common (about 15%), followed by stress disorder (8%). The U.S. News and World Report (2011) studied on young people’s health problem; the results indicated mental health problems are the leading cause of disability among teens and young adults worldwide. Results were based on data collected from 75 countries on disease burden among 10 to 24 years old in 2004.

Current Studies on Suicide Rates in Generation Y
Wasserman and Jiang, (2005) studies the suicide rates based on 132,423 deaths of adolescents from 15-19 years old in 90 different countries. The results indicate a rising trend of suicide rates among adolescents were observed and suicide is shown to be the fourth leading cause of death among young males and the third for young females. Some of the social and cultural factors as a cause of increasing suicide rates were suggested by comparing between high rates countries and low rates countries, findings suggested that lack of physicians’ awareness of the importance of adequately treating people with psychiatric disorders, psychosocial problems and harmful stress may be the cause of increasing suicide rates, saying that mental health may be the main cause. However the causes of increasing suicide rates are not the main focus of this research, therefore no further investigation was done. University of Manchester (2011) has published a report revealing the results on their study of suicide by people with mental illness, the study also show than premature suicide rates in were higher and increasing from 2001 to 2008, compared with premature suicide rates a decade ago, showing that generation Y has a higher suicide rate than Generation X. Professor Louis Appleby who took part in the report, stated that “every suicide is a tragedy and we must continue to be vigilant and improve safety for individuals in mental health care.

Study Shows how Body Image Correlate with Mental Issues and Suicide Rates:
Kimmel and Mahalik (2005) researched on the body image concerns of gay man, the report shows that gay men reports greater body dissatisfaction, body-related stress, eating disorders and poorer body image than heterosexual males. The result also show that all three minority stress factor (internalized homophobia, stigma and anti-gay physical attack) were significantly associated with body image dissatisfaction and masculine body ideal distress. This document helps how low social acceptance of lesbian, gay, and transsexual individuals’ impact on body dissatisfaction, and linked with mental health problems such as suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, and substance use. The methodology was using empirical study, interview, focus group and qualitative study. DiFulvio, (2011) also research in similar area; looking into how these mental issues lead to suicide. DiFulvio (2011) also suggest that sexual minority youth are at increased risk for negative mental health outcomes including depression, anxiety, and suicide. Results also had shown the social disconnections which are consequence of discrimination and stigma, causing depression and suicidal thoughts.

People with negative body image are more likely to experience disordered eating (Stice, 2002). A research conducted by Mintz et. al, (2008), studying the treatment and prevention of eating disorder, they indicated that eating disorder are among the most prevalent psychological problem among young females, findings show that mortality rates among eating disorder cases can range as high as 10% due to starvation, cardiac arrest, or suicide. Treatment using cognitive behavioural therapy targeting at one’s negative body image, weight and shape concerns has shown to be most effective. Results indicate that 30% of the participants are suffering from significant distress associated with body dissatisfaction and should be focused on. The result is also consistent with another study done by Stanford School of Medicine, they study the effective treatment of women 29-35 years old with eating disorders, it has shown to be relatively effective for many people suffering from anxiety disorder using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over a 6-month period and consist of 18 sessions, result in increasing flexibility in thinking style and improve body image (Stanford School of Medicine 2011).

Social and cultural analysis
Webster defines beauty as the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. In other words beauty is a trinity, a combination of physical appearance, self-perception of oneself and being spiritually beautiful (Webster 1983).

In terms of feeling spiritually beautiful, Durkheim’s theory of suicide (Durkheim, 1897) may provide some explanation of the increase of negative body image, mental issues and suicide rates in generation Y. Durkheim observes the suicide among different religions; results showed Catholics has lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, He explain that lack of connections between people and lack of regulations of behaviour, feelings and motivations, result in higher suicide rates. And in Catholic society religion is a man’s self-consciousness and self-awareness and beliefs about religion is to discover deeper streams in how humanity sees itself as a whole, these beliefs are mainly positive in interpersonal and spiritual growth. For example, in Christianity, it tells us every single person on earth, every part of our body is beautiful in the eyes of God. However in generation Y, there are decrease of religious beliefs in the society, according to the Australian Beaureau Statistics (2007), Christianity feel from 86% to 68% from 1971 to 2001; non-Christian religions rose from 1% to 5% in 2006; and no religion raised from 6.7% to 15.5%. Decrease of religion may result in lack of direction of the perception of self-body image and being spiritually beautiful; therefore result in failure due to attempts to achieve unattainable ideal body image that the media and society tried to portray.

Referring back to Webster’s definition of beauty, it seems that physical beauty are the most current idealised prospect of beauty in generation Y and most recognisable in our society. Probably due to the fact physical appearance seems to be the only factor they can have control over, compared to the mind and spirit. However, According to Gramsci’s Marxist theory of hegemony, they do not have much control over the physical beauty as well; instead, a strong invisible social force is driving this young generation to believe what beauty is. Marxist theory of hegemony looks at the phenomenon of selection of the information the society or media chooses to display, limiting and framing the information that the recipient gets, in result of influencing thought within a society (Thomas, 2009). Marxist also stated that cultural hegemony helps unifies social value, internal class logic or allow member to behave in a particular way. When thinking about what the media selected to present to the public, images of women are predominantly thin, young, white or tanned, large breasts and flawless skin; and men are muscular, tall and well-groomed. The media do not give much of an option, people presented are very similarly, and all in a typical model type. Young people do not realise that they are bombard with these information every day, on every mouse click, magazine flip, and it is controlling their thoughts and affecting their mental health. Diedrichs (2011) stated that exposure to media images of idealised thin and muscular models is a significant risk factor of poor body image, and people with negative body image are more likely to experience disordered eating, depression and suicidal intention.


Artifacts Analysis and Reflection
The artefact sends out a beautiful message about everyone is beautiful, and we should be happy about our flaws. It also represents our society where generation Y are currently raised up within. Although the society tells Gen Ys to be more open minded, and accepting to differences in the society. This artefact shows the reality is totally different; people dissatisfied with their body image are isolated, some stays in their room alone trying to fit in the society; beauty in this generation are only considered in a single body shape. The people shown in the artefact are under high pressure, trying to fit into what society thinks is normal, these pressure or concerns and unattainable goals will then lead to dissatisfaction and public health issues.
In reflection, one thing I have learnt most is, how powerful social and cultural forces have impacted on us and many of us does not realise. Many Gen Yers think they can make their own decision, choose their own fate and destiny, however, the truth is most of them are just living a life others think as ideal lifestyle. Therefore instead of changing to adapt the environment and living someone else’s life, we should think critically and acknowledge the beauty in this world, it is actually everywhere around us, it circulates in our body, minds and sprits; and all we have to do is seek fulfilments in the society, because everyone is beautiful. As Thomas Jefferson said “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be. (Jefferson, 1776)”


Reference list:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Census shows non-Christian religions continue to grow at a faster rate. Retrieved from!OpenDocument

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010). Mental Health of Young People, 2007. Retrieved from

Better Health Channel. (2010). Body image – tips for parents. Retrieved from

Council of Australian Governments (COAG). (2006), National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011, Retrieved from

Diedrichs, P. C.(2011). Seeing the beauty in everyday people: a qualitative study of young Australians' opinions on body image, the mass media and models. Body image(1740-1445), 8(3), 259. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2011.03.003

DiFulvio, G. T. (2011). Sexual minority youth, social connection and resilience: From personal struggle to collective identity. Social Science & Medicine, 72(10), 1611-1617. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.02.045

Grogan, S. (2008). Body Image: Understanding body dissatisfaction in men, women and children
(2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Hampshire, A., & Di Nicola, K. (2011). What's worrying young Australians and where do they go for advice and support? Policy and practice implications for their wellbeing. Early Intervention In Psychiatry, 5(1), 12-16. doi:10.1111/j.1751-7893.2010.00234.x

Health Insite. (2011).Mental Health of Young People. Retrieved from
Kimmel, S.B., Mahalik, J.R. (2005). Body Image Concerns of Gay Men: The Roles of Minority Stress and Conformity to Masculine Norms.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 73(6) 1185-1190. Retrieved from

Mintz, L. B., Hamilton, E., Bledman, R. A., & Franko, D. L. (2008). Preventing eating and weight-related disorders: Toward an integrated best practices approach. In S. D. Brown, R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (4th ed.) (pp. 570-587). Hoboken, NJ US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Mission Australia. (2009). National Survey of Young Australians 2009. Retrieved from

Rochelle L Bergstrom, & Clayton Neighbors. (2006). Body Image Disturbance and the Social Norms Approach: An Integrative Review of the Literature. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25(9), 975-1000. Retrieved November 3, 2011, from Academic Research Library. (Document ID: 1179475571).

Wasserman, D., Cheng, Q. and Jiang, G. (2005). Global suicide rates among young people aged 15-19. World Psychiatry, 4(2), 114-120, Retrieved from
Stanford School of Medicine. (2011). Treatment of Women (19-35) with Eating Disorders. Retrieved from

Stice, E. (2002). Risk and maintenance factors for eating pathology: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 128(2002), 825–848. Retrieved from

Study ranks mental health as young people's top health problem. (2011, U.S.News & World Report. Retrieved from;
The University of Manchester. (2011). Suicide and homicide rates in mental health patients revealed. Retrieved from

Tomas, P. (2009). Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 24: Gramscian Moment: Philosophy, Hegemony, and Marxism. Boston, MA: Brill Academic Publishers.

WEBSTER, M.(1983). Beauty as Status. The American journal of sociology(0002-9602), 89(1), 140. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2007). Mental health: Strengthening Mental Health Promotion, Fact sheet no. 220, WHO, Geneva. Retrieved from

Learning Engagements and Reflection Task
Topic: Generation Y - The Peter Pan Generation, or are we?
Student: Hiu Kwan Tung
student number: n7691882
Tutor: Abbey Diaz

Subject: "We are not a Peter Pan Generation?"
It's very interesting to read your analysis about generation Y's health relating to their individualism. I have always thought we(gen Y) are a "Peter Pan Generation". We live in a fairly structured society, with everything planned and laid out for, very few of us have critical thinking mindsets, we do what are told and tell what are already said; I think many of us in the generation will not be able to function very well in this society without others guiding us. But looking at your essay, Twenge (2009) does say we are individualistic and not dependent on parents, so maybe I am just one of the victim being negatively influenced by how the public portray us. I am also festinated how high self-esteem leads to mental issues and have negative impact while entering work force, while high self-esteem has always seem to be a positive personality to acquire.
P.S. Don't be too disheartened, I guess every generation gets criticized by other generations. Sometimes those who criticised our generation, forgets who raised us. haha

Topic: Is generation Y ‘real’ or a creation of the media? Has the media created the ideal body image and what impact is it having on generation Y’s health?

Student: James Calligeros
Student Number: n8282561
Tutor: Judith Meiklejohn

Subject: Well Done
Thank you for your essay, I really enjoy reading it, Zyzz really does represents what generation Y perceives as ideal male image. I have a friend who really admires Zyzz, and he wouldn't mind risking his health by using steroid to be like him as well, it took me and other friends great effort to convince him not to do so. I guess it is not that easy to change someone's perception on what is beautiful. I agree that the media has made their characters more realistic these days, but I think trying to reach those unattainable body images has become a habit, I mean I still think hairless, tanned body, very masculine and whitened teeth are most appealing after reading about all the positive and negative influences. So I don't think it can eliminate their current body image.