Whether it’s photos at the beach, a night out with friends, or selfies with your cat, we all tend to share the best parts of our life on social media. Social media was designed to be a place for people to share what they’ve been up to or branch out and meet new people. However, it has turned into something much more serious. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, are starting to become less like entertainment and more like an addiction for many users, whether they realize it or not.
The biggest problem it’s causing, especially to young woman, is body image issues. I recently conducted a survey for women asking about their body image and how it has been impacted or changed in recent years. Not to my surprise, many women struggle with their confidence and a lot of this negativity comes from social media. Whether it’s through celebrities, influencers, or their own friends, they see all of these touched up in unrealistic photos. They can’t help but to compare themselves to it. This is leading to negative body image and low self-esteem.
Body image isn’t necessarily how a person looks, but how they perceive themselves. How they perceive themselves changes when they have the option to get online and see an abundance of “perfect” bodies. Young girls especially are under a lot of pressure to maintain a certain body type. With social media, it makes the stress even heavier.
Every day we are being exposed to bodies like the Kardashians and Jenners on social media, leaving girls to compare their own bodies to them. They wonder why they aren’t naturally shaped like that or want to change themselves to get that same image, even if they didn’t have insecurity issues before.
In the survey I conducted, 44 percent of girls agreed that celebrities’ posts make them feel more insecure and 82 percent said they have higher expectations of their body since being on social media sites. It takes a huge toll on their self-esteem and body image and they begin seeking validation by posting on social media. From there, it becomes a cycle.
Body image gets distorted not just by other people’s posts, but also by the dependency some users may develop to it. When someone receives likes or comments on a picture, they get a small sense of validation, but it doesn’t last long. A person must keep making more and more posts to build up and seek that sense of validation. They begin to measure how good their picture or post was based off how many likes they got, and if they don’t get enough within their threshold, they revert to feeling low self-esteem.
If someone posts a picture of themselves and doesn’t receive as many likes as they wanted, it eats away at their confidence. My survey showed that 54 percent of girls worry about their body every single day and 63 percent agreed that social media makes them feel more insecure. There is clearly an issue of dependency with social media that we aren’t paying close enough attention to.
Social networking sites are a good place for people to stay connected and to share details about their life and accomplishments with family and friends, but it has its downsides. We need to remind ourselves of a few things before logging back on. The most important one is remembering that it’s not real. People only post the most glamorous parts of their life, you don’t see what’s happening beyond the screen. Before you start feeling jealous or insecure because of a person's post, remember that it is all smoke in mirrors, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and their life is no better than yours.
Secondly, keep in mind that likes and comments can make you feel nice, but it is not the only way to feel confident and find validation within yourself. It is important to love yourself and appreciate your body without anyone else’s approval. Lastly, social media is meant for entertainment and communication purposes, and if you feel yourself slipping into a dependency or just catch yourself mindlessly scrolling too often, it’s okay to take a break.
Deleting social media for a little bit and limiting your screen time is a great way to get your head back in order and focus more on your own life. Social media isn’t completely unhealthy and can be a very powerful tool, but like most things, it can turn detrimental without moderation.