I used to think I was pretty average-looking, because I couldn't compare to the movie stars and fashion models. Then I discovered that most people don't look that good, in fact - I hate to sound conceited, but - they don't even look as good as me. Since then I've gained a lot more confidence in my appearance.
But I don't blame the movie stars and fashion models for that. I am an aesthetic artist. I idolize beauty, and refuse to apologize for it. I also recognize that my lack of self-confidence is a problem of my own psychology as much as a reflection of the messages that are directed to me by the media. Blaming other people isn't the way to get any better.
If anything can help, instead of censoring portrayals of beauty, it's balancing those portrayals with other portrayals of normality. Of course people idolize beauty - beauty is defined as a desirable attribute. But if all people ever see are beautiful people then it's going to skew their view of normality.
My friend insists - and I agree with her - that exposure to a nudist environment ought to do wonders for a person's body image. That sort of exposure ought to be mandatory - especially, in my opinion, during adolescence, when people are most self-conscious about their bodies.
When people see how plain, even flawed (rather than ideally beautiful) most people are, and how they can still have fun and take pride in their bodies and lead happy lives in spite of that, it has a great potential to improve their opinion of their own bodies, and put the idolization of beauty into perspective (without requiring its elimination).
Another thing that has helped improve my body confidence is my experience as an erotic model. People talk on about how posing for erotic pictures objectifies and commodifies one's body. But having people drooling over me proves that I am desirable, even if I don't think I'm perfect. Noone can be wanted by everyone, but it proves that there are some people out there who do think I am perfect just the way I am.
If you've got flaws, then putting yourself out there to be judged can be an ordeal - I understand that. I've been through it. But I've come out the other side. And I've found that nobody is as judgmental as yourself. For every person who doesn't like one aspect of your body, another person will love you for it. That's the great thing about perverts - in their diversity and sexual enthusiasm they can balance all the criticism in the world.
I don't see why people get so down on perverts, when what they're doing is spreading the joy of sexual pleasure throughout the world. Why are we hung up instead on how indulging in sexual pleasure is evil? It's puritanical, and masochistic in a sense, but above all unhealthy. But that's a topic for another discussion.