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The Relationship between Social Media and Negative Body Image

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If an individual were to pick up a magazine decades ago, they would see a combination of models of all racial groups and ethnicities that were the same shape, form, and size; pencil thin. If anyone today were to open their Instagram app or step outside and look at the people walking the streets, it is likely that their internal reaction would not be the best. Anyone on the internet can, and will, post pictures and/or videos of excessive workouts and weight loss pills to show their followers their physical changes, causing others to feel self-conscious about themselves because they are not doing the same. Feelings of anxiety, self-consciousness, and shame of their appearance may arise. These are all signs and symptoms of negative body image. The mental portrayal humans have of themselves changes constantly in people of any age but most specifically female teenagers. In Brittney Tackett’s article “How Social Media Affects Our Body Image”, she states that the teenage generation can find others online who make their body disorders out to be satisfactory and motivate them to continue, making social media an unsafe place for them (Tackett).

Young females worry about their physique, their classmates’, the objectification of famous females online, and the objectification of pictures of themselves that they post online (Tackett). Many individuals are not satisfied with their reflection in the mirror. They attempt to find ways to change through over exercising, over-stressing about their appearance and, at times, eating less. Social Media is a substantial factor of negative body image amongst mankind, especially for female teenagers. It subjects individuals to the modern-day beauty standards. With the pressure to fill its shoes, it can cause depression, suicide or suicidal thoughts, body disorders (body dysmorphia, bulimia, and anorexia).

In this day and age, mankind has become a victim of the crippling effect modern beauty standards has on society. Beauty Standards are negative stereotypes set by society to judge individuals, more specifically women, based off of what they believe is “beautiful”. It pressures society into letting the rest of the world choose and dictate what is best for everyone. According to Emily Condron, author of the article “Beauty Standards: Today’s Society”, many individuals believe themselves to be “too fat” or “too ugly”(Condron). Young men and women are led to believe that they do not fit the unrealistic beauty standards presented to them (Condron). Social media plays an enormous influence on what determines beauty standards today. It subjects individuals to modern day beauty standards by allowing gaunt social media influencers to post images showing off their skeleton-like bodies.

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Eugenia Cooney, a female who started Youtube in 2011 and has almost 2.5 million subscribers, is mostly known for by many for being severely underweight. The twenty-five year old is said to weigh around 86 pounds and has a grand influence on her followers. Her Instagram account consists of many images where she takes mirror selfies to show off her outfit. By looking at the image, one can say that she, healthwise, is in a very dangerous predicament. Her knees stick out farther than her thighs and her body looks as if she could fall dead any minute. Even though she has this terribly unhealthy body, many of her followers admire her physique and wish to look just like her. Her followers Instagram post comments saying, “24,000+ likes, wtf! Maybe I should take up starvation as a hobby and post a bunch of selfies”, “How long do I have to fast to look like you?”, and “You’re so pretty and skinny. I wanna be skinny so bad. I did not eat yet for 2 days so I hope it works”(Mack). Whether it be a random person or an influencer, social media gives easy access for any person on their app to find someone to fuel the unhealthy addiction of not eating to seem pretty and beautiful to everyone else in the world.

Teenagers and young adults with low confidence and body image complications are more susceptible to having severe unhappiness and dejection, is the first stage leading to eating disorders and body dysmorphia due to it being a symptom of low confidence and self-consciousness. It, in this sense, is the catalyst, the beginning of a terrible way of living. Through depression, eating disorders are formed. Eating disorders are abnormal or disturbing eating habits that are created for altering your physical appearance. They can be expressed through bulimia (an eating disorder in which a person forced themselves to vomit or fast in order to lose weight) and anorexia (refusing to eat in order to lose weight). According to the article “Body Image & Eating Disorders”, individuals who experience negative body image are “more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and eating disorders” over those who do not struggle with their outer appearance (“Body Image & Eating Disorders”). Body dysmorphia is an incurable mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance.

The illness causes an individual to direct their attention to any minor flaws or blemishes that appear on their body, but is not visible or noticeable by others. Body dysmorphia causes the feelings of being embarrassed, anxious, and ashamed of oneself to be so extreme, it is likely that a person with body dysmorphia will try to avoid situations in which they must interact with others. People with this disorder may spend an innumerable amount of time in front of the mirror trying to fix their flaws and will constantly compare themselves to others. The person may even resort to cosmetic surgery or exerting themselves in different exercises to get rid of the problem only they can see. This extremely serious issue that was believed to only affect females now seems to affect males as well. The article “Body Dysmorphic Disorder: When A Negative Body Image Becomes A Mental Health Condition” found research stating that in teenagers 34% of boys and 49% of girls began diets to lose weight and change their appearance ( “Body Dysmorphic Disorder: When A Negative Body Image Becomes A Mental Health Condition”).

People with body dysmorphia are obsessed with themselves in such a negative way, that it completely takes over their life. They may avoid seeing their family and friends, start skipping school, and may even go to the extent of quitting their jobs ( “Body Dysmorphic Disorder: When A Negative Body Image Becomes A Mental Health Condition”). Body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and depression caused by negative body image are three of the many significant factors of a terrible life style. No one should live a life where they must worry every second of the day about their appearance. It is not a healthy way of living and will eventually gain control of their entire existence.

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The Relationship between Social Media and Negative Body Image. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“The Relationship between Social Media and Negative Body Image.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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The Relationship between Social Media and Negative Body Image [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
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