Social Media and Body Image
By: Diya Varma, Contributing Writer
Edited by: Fatou Yeli Kourouma, Editor; Eve Nevelos, Editor in Chief
Whether we realize it or not, social media largely influences our perceptions of beauty. For better or worse, we are continuously consuming pictures posted on social media platforms - Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. As a result, social media and body image (the physical perception of ourselves) have become intimately intertwined. Because of the positive and negative impacts, social media can have on how we see ourselves, it is critical to recognize the impacts in order to minimize the negative consequences on our mental health.
In a variety of ways, social networking may help people feel better about themselves. Some users may find health and wellness, exercise, and plant-based food accounts to be motivating. Users of social media can maintain a healthy and good body image by using these frameworks. However, recently an organisation called Eating Disorder Hope published an article about how social media may help women feel better about their bodies. They said that the internet’s body positivity environment has produced a more empathetic and inclusive space for people of all body types. As a result, body image advocacy on social media can have a significant influence on those actively battling eating disorders. Furthermore, with various support groups available across multiple platforms, social media can assist certain users in navigating the often stigmatized subject of body image.
Although it has a beneficial impact on the mental health of some users, research suggests that social media also has a detrimental impact on people’s perceptions of their bodies. Project Know, a non-profit dedicated to assisting individuals with addictive habits, looked at how social media might exacerbate eating disorders and may trigger or worsen “certain genetic or psychological predispositions.” While social media hasn’t been proven to create psychological problems, it has been shown to worsen pre-existing mental health issues.
When a picture is uploaded online, it is often filtered and/or altered to make the person in the picture appear more in accordance with today’s unattainable beauty standards. Applications like FaceTune, Picsart and others are often used by influencers to make themselves seem skinnier or their skin clearer. Being an influencer or having a large online platform comes with equally large responsibilities. When people see images like these, it’s difficult for them not to compare themselves to the person in it, ignorant of how much work and editing went into making the person appear “perfect.”
Perfect is a social construct; people are perfect just the way they are, devoid of the minor details they feel compelled to modify in order to meet society’s impossible standards. Despite the fact that the online world has gotten more accepting of all body types, it may still be a very toxic environment. It’s essential to remember what our bodies do for us: they keep us healthy and alive, heal us when we’re injured and allow us to experience happiness and love. It’s crucial to appreciate and love our bodies, especially when we feel driven to compare ourselves to others online. It is okay to take a break from social media and distance yourself from the internet because your mental health is the most important thing. You are beautiful just the way you are.
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