The Influence of Social Media on Body Image

General News | Jun-05-2024

The Influence of Social Media on Body Image

One of the important phenomena of the modern world in almost all spheres of our lives is social networks, which affect one’s beliefs about oneself and others. There is one crucial domain in which social media influence is rather strong, and that is the perception of one’s body. 
Mobile Social Media and the Visually-Oriented Culture

Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and other analogous platforms derive from media that convey information with the help of vision. The preferred medium of communication consists of image and videos which happens to be one of the most effective tools for conveying messages in the current generation. However, these visuals are accompanied by filters, editing tools, and selected content that distort and set a very high beauty and body template.

It was established that there was an increase in the prevalence of the appearance of the so-called ideal image of the body.

The daily dosing that people get from the media with images of physically beautiful persons can have an effect on people’s perception of body. Such stars and various personalities present themselves and their bodies as being perfect, although this is very far from the truth. This occurrence is not exclusive to women only but also increases the pressure on men as they are also presented with unrealistic expectations of muscularity and fitness.

A previous study aimed at identifying the relationship between the usage of social networks and body image has found that body dissatisfaction is an outcome of using social networks. Research carried out by Gardner and Davis in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence showed that youths who spent long hours on social media used the platforms to compare their bodies with those portrayed online hence more health risks, particularly low self-esteem.

The effects of social media use on the part of members of the Gen Z population can result in numerous negative consequences on their mental health.
The expectation to fit into these slim body shapes has detrimental effects on one’s psychological well-being. Dissatisfaction with one's own body is strongly correlated with such mental illnesses as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Desiring to achieve an ideal weight, young people can overestimate their caloric intake and spend much time exercising and taking dangerous substances.

Furthermore, the continuous use of social networks with an emphasis on anonymity can cause bullying, as well as comments about one’s figure triggering negative emotions and the desire to harm the body even more. The use of likes, comments, and shares as feedback becomes a vicious cycle of hoping to receive good comments on one's status and ending up with a negative self-esteem when none is given.

The Use of Opinion Leaders and the Transition to Positive Body Image Conversations

Nevertheless, the social media, being a method of communication, brings the opportunity for a positive development. Thus, the plurality of influencers and activists are raising awareness of body acceptance and positivity. Cases like #BodyPositivity, #SelfLove compel everyone to accept the way they are, ignoring the stereotypical standards.

Body positivity advocates use their feeds to post raw photos, recovery narratives, and motivational messages regarding people’s body image. Such tales serve as a means to counteract the images of beauty which are depicted in the mass media and can assist people in the process of building a healthy attitude towards their bodies.

Interventions for Improving the Relations with Social Media and Body Image

Curate Your Feed:
Like pages, groups, and users that encourage healthy eating and body image. Block the ones that make you feel like you are not good enough or compel you to be like someone else.

Limit Screen Time:
Limit the time spent on social media platforms since they continually present an individual with body images that inspire desire. Participate in physical and mental offline activities.

Be Critical of What You See:
Just think, though, what you are observing on social media is what people want you to see, not a fully real version of their lives. Coming to the images with an open mind, as one cannot be quite certain that they are viewing truth in images.

Focus on Self-Care:
Focus on the things that are good for the self, for example, exercise, love for arts, friends, and family. Consciously develop your self-esteem that is not attached to other people’s opinions about you.

Seek Support:
If this is something that continues to bother you, it is advisable to seek help from a therapist or engage with other people through support groups dedicated to body image.

Conclusion, Social media has a critical impact on the ways that prerequisite and reflect on body image. The main effect is that it contributes to the reinforcement of negative body image ideals; however, it also has the potential to inspire change that would promote Body Positivity. Of course, through careful consideration of what information we feed our minds by frequently seeking positive images, we should be able to develop a proper relationship with the bodies as well as achieve a tolerant type of beauty.

By : Parth Yadav
Anand School of Excellence

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