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The Harm & Manipulation of Beauty Standards

Social media is manipulating beauty standards and is impacting teenage girls and their self-esteem. Social media is supposed to unite people, but in recent years, many platforms have affected young girls' mental health by intentionally making them constantly compare themselves to others. Magazines and major beauty companies edit the women in their ads, portray beauty standards precisely, and wait for girls to become consumers.

In today's society, advertising, particularly for fashion and cosmetics, has a powerful effect on how we see ourselves and think we should look. They also have a large influence on body image and dissatisfaction. Especially since young girls are getting technological devices and social media apps at a young age, they are exposed to these advertisements very early. As these children grow up, beauty standards are engraved into their heads, causing an unhealthy relationship with their bodies and food. In addition, advertisers believe that thin models sell products. Advertisers have appealed to and contributed to women's insecurities for almost a century to sell them the solution. So, when girls think of a "normal body," they think of a thin, photoshopped, and unattainable. This mindset affects teenage girls because they see themselves as not good enough. Many adolescents feel that using diet products affiliated with digitally manipulated models is the only way to achieve the "perfect body." Creating these advertisements with unrealistic images of attractiveness has resulted in anxiety and low self-esteem, which can lead to eating disorders. Most of these negative emotions stem from unhappiness in the body and appearance.

Specifically, platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram allow women to subconsciously emphasize skinny bodies being ideal because of the urge to compare. The New York Times published an article about social media and body image in which they interviewed teens from around the world to get their stories and perspectives. One account notes that many students said that social media has been "detrimental" to how they feel about their looks and that even though they are aware it does not show the full picture, they still struggle not to compare themselves. A second girl notes how social media greatly affects her body image because she wonders why she cannot have the same flat, toned stomach despite exercising and eating healthy.

In today's modern era of technology, there are many apps that teenage girls can use to edit their bodies before they post on Instagram or any social media platform. There are hundreds of influencers that are praised for having the perfect body when chances are it is completely edited. There is pressure on teenage girls to look and act a certain way. When girls use these apps and post pictures on social media and get comments that say "so beautiful," or "You're perfect," it makes them feel like who they are is not enough.

However, in recent years, female empowerment has grown stronger each day on TikTok Nabela. Creators like Nabela Noor or Remi Jo profit and thrive off of body-positive content. While the movement continues to grow and representation expands in all forms of media, stereotypical body image and looks will persist. Hence, educating young boys and girls about beauty, acceptance, and confidence is crucial.

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