Social media is messing with body image

Gabrielle McGarry

April 18, 2017

Blog Post #6

Social Media and Body Image

 

It’s hard enough for young people to feel confident in their own skin without the added pressures of social media.  From day one, young boys and girls are almost pitted against each other to be the most popular, the prettiest, or the most loveable in their schools.  It’s both mentally and physically draining.  Add this negative self-image and competitiveness to social media, and a plethora of issues arise.

As someone who enjoys eating healthy and working out, I find it extremely difficult to get on my social media without feeling like lesser of a person.  I follow countless fitness, health & wellness and clean eating accounts that are supposed to give me motivation.  But typically all they do is make me feel bad about myself.  Social media is damaging to teens body image because it enforces a “thin ideal.”

According to Time magazine, researchers have found evidence linking social media use to body image concerns, dieting, body surveillance, a drive for thinness and self-objectification in youth.  The airbrushed skin, toned glutes and rock-hard abs of some accounts make adolescents crave the same unachievable look.  This leads to pro-anorexia and “thinspiration” websites which negatively affect youth and their self-image.  The gratification young adults get from social media when they post a “good” picture on social media can transfer over to real-life which puts pressure on users to constantly be looking their best to achieve the same validation.  But is any of it actually real?

While social media is not the cause of low self-esteem, it definitely contributes to it.  A comment made by a young girl named Kirby on proud2beme.org says, “When I look at other people’s photo albums, the comparing is automatic. I end up feeling like crap. I went to Photoshop a picture of myself on Facebook. I was changing a lot of things, then I saw the picture and I stopped myself, thinking, ‘this is not who I am.  I want to be who I am.’”  Inevitably, we all feel the mounding pressure to be perfectly airbrushed at all times, but at the end of the day, older users are realizing it’s about who you are not what you look like.

It’s important that we, as an older generation, encourage younger generations to stop feeling as if they need to compare themselves to others.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying “I love you the way you are.”  If we want to stop social media from corrupting our youth and giving them a negative self-worth or body image, we have to let them know IN REAL LIFE how special, beautiful and important they are.

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism