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How Social Media Influences Body Image

Since the early 2000s, social media has been prevalent in many people’s lives.  Social media has grown exponentially in the last twenty years, with apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok becoming increasingly popular.  Despite social media being a great way to connect with people, it only shows the highlights of a person’s life.  In other words, social media is fake, and the images can cause severe body image problems, especially in teenagers and young adults.  

“Influencers” on social media are constantly posing and purchasing the “right” clothes to make themselves seem more fit and beautiful, and this causes young people to want to look like them.  The social media user Shannon stated, “people create a false self, a fake self. They post all these selfies, and they’ve photoshopped them and messed around with them.” Photoshopping one’s face to have whiter teeth, bigger lips, and tanner skin makes impressionable boys and girls think their faces must also look like that, despite it being all fake.  

Users of social media do not just edit their faces but also their bodies.  Users with millions of followers are going to post their body when it looks the absolute best, usually when they have no body rolls or cellulite, and this directly affects how their followers look at themselves.  If someone who teenagers idolizehas the perfect body and face, of course, the teenagers are also going to want the ideal body and face, too.  

, a clinical psychologist at Monash University’s Body Image Research Group, stated, “social media conditions us to be aspirational and do upwards comparisons, where we feel worse about ourselves and our bodies.” When Instagram and TikTok feeds are flooded with perfect women and men, it is hard not to want to look like them.  Body image can affect everyone; Dr.Sharp also stated, “Everyone, from the 13-year-old girl to the 81-year-old man, has a sense of body image.”  It is, however, most prevalent in girls.  Young girls already have so much pressure on their shoulders with growing into womanhood. Withthe addition of looking at the bodies of perfect models and influencers, social media becomes highly toxic.  

The effects of having a negative body image oneself can result in eating disorders and feelings of depression and anxiety.  “A small 2018 study found a correlation between time spent on social media, negative body image, and disordered eating. This was especially true if participants were scrolling through appearance-related content, like the account of a fitness instructor or model on Instagram.”  The constant comparison between Instagram and real life is not suitable for the young mind, especially when all bodies are supposed to look different.  The genes passed down from one’s parents are what mainly influence how one’s body looks, and genes are difficult things to change.  

The use of photoshop in social media is also becoming increasingly popular.  For example, YouTuber Tana Mongeauposts pictures of herself constantly, most photoshopped.  Mongeau is known for being exposed for using the app Facetuneon her face and body; when real-life photos are released of her, she looks completely different.  This has happened to many new “influencers” over the last few years, where their Instagram seems utterly different from their real-life self.  It can also be said that they have body issues, which is why most popular social media users need to use Facetune to fit in with everyone else.  

Body issues due to social media are a real issue in today’s world.  Young and old social media users are constantly being fed images of “perfect” people, thus making them believe that is what they should look like.  However, some people are taking a stand against this.  A new trend has arisen where users post “Instagram vs. Reality” photos, in which one image will be of a perfectly posed face and body, and the other will be what that person looks like.  The effects of this are shocking because it is incredible how different a body can look with just a different pose.  “A small body of experimental research has shown that viewing more realistic photos on Instagram has positive benefit in evoking less appearance concern that viewing highly enhanced or edited photos.”  This new trend shows social media users that no matter what their body looks like, it should still be considered a “perfect” body.  

The body keeps people alive and is performing so many more essential functions, so it should not be judged by what it looks like.  Social media influences young minds to make them want to look like the fake and photoshopped pictures of popular social media users; however, there is hope for the future.  With more and more users coming out and saying that social media is fake and posting their natural body, young minds can have a healthy relationship with their body and learn to love how it looks.

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