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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 23/11/2006

In Britain on the Couch the clinical psychologist Oliver James recounts research which shows how exposure to media images and television is very undermining for people's sense of themselves. He argues that social comparison is a fundamentally human activity. Before the advent of the mass media people compared themselves with other folk in their social circle such as their sister, or the woman next door. Now we are continually invited to compare ourselves with glamorous supermodels and filmstars and obviously we don't measure up. James argues that men aren't immune to this process of comparison and are also undermined by the images of handsome, successful, rich men.

James wrote this almost a decade ago before the cult of celebrity really intensified. If anything, the problem gets worse and worse. Everytime I'm on public transport these days there's a young woman next to me devouring one of these celebrity mags. The irony is that not only do these glamour girls have unreal lives where they can spend all their time on their appearance but they don't even look like that. A wee film has been posted on utube which is worth a look if you are not convinced. Ok it is marketing as well, but it's interesting and only takes a few seconds to view.


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