Body Image and Social Media

How teenagers are influenced by social media on the daily

Body image has become a huge part of social media in this generation, especially for teenagers. Spending time scrolling through images of toned, model bodies makes the viewers feel like they need a ‘perfect body’ too. People tend to compare themselves to others that they see online, even when these photos are often fake or edited. In a survey conducted on a group of senior high school students, 94 percent said that they use social media multiple times a day and 78 percent agreed that comparing themselves to others on social media makes them feel inclined to change their appearance.

Photograph: The Guardian

These unrealistic standards have negatively affected people, specifically young adults, by producing unhealthy factors in their lives such as restrictive eating or excessive exercising. The goal of these factors is to look like the perfect bodies that social media promotes every day. Journalist Erin Heger says that “researchers concluded that more time spent on Facebook leads to more frequent body and weight comparisons and more negative feelings about one’s body. It also found that for women who wanted to lose weight, more time on Facebook resulted in more disordered eating symptoms. Young women who spend more time on Facebook may feel more concerned about their body because they compare their appearance to others”.

Social media can affect its users negatively, but it also has a few benefits. More and more people are starting to expose the unrealistic standard that social media sets. Many of those perfect photos are perceived that way because of certain angles and poses. Influencers have been recently using social media to promote the message that everybody is beautiful, and imperfections are beautiful too. Every body is socially acceptable, not just the unrealistic and edited ones you see when you scroll.

While this part of social media is beneficial, it is only a small portion of the internet. A solution to this issue is to continue this trend of normalizing every body. Social media may portray people as having perfect lives, but that is only one snapshot of their whole world. Self-appreciation and acceptance need to start being promoted more than anything else, and then the issue of body image and social media can hopefully start to be solved.