Every day after school, I take out my phone and scroll through my endless Instagram feed, like almost every high school girl does. I scroll through countless celebrity selfies, funny text posts, cool vacations, but mostly abundances of photos of my friends and mutual friends. I normally enjoy this routine, and the opportunity to see what's going on outside of my life. But, while scrolling, there’s one thing that constantly catches my eye. I see girls bodies and faces that have been obviously altered by apps and enhanced. This always gets me by surprise. Why would these girls purposely edit their bodies just to impress their “friends” on social media?
Social media sparks the interest of being like others and has the constant reminder of celebrities and friends lives . Seeing this, teens compare themselves negatively to their “friends” on social media and this constant contrast kills their self-esteem and body image. But, what is it in social media that causes negative effects to teenager’s body images?
The countless edited bodies of girls my age, is affected by the “perfect” lives of celebrities and friends posts. The constant posting of pictures and reminder of other’s lives puts immense pressure on girls to be someone they are not. At the beginning of my research I learned how much of an impact social media has on teenagers. According to the article “Does social media impact body image? From the news network BBC, “In 2013, two-thirds of teenagers had signed up to the Facebook app, where images are posted and shared millions of times a day. Never have they known so much about their friends' lives and the way they look.” (Roxby). This fact isn’t very surprising to me since I have a facebook and so do many of my friends. However, what does surprise me is how the constant reminder of friends lives affects body image. By seeing their friends and celebrities all the time on social media, it has negative effects and leads to them editing and enhancing their bodies and faces.
From the article “Young Girls, More Are Using Apps to Photoshop Their Selfies”, “Though there are countless apps available, the most popular ones at the moment are Perfect365, Visage Lab and Facetune. With these apps, users can clear up their skin, erase under eye circles, make their teeth look whiter and alter their selfies in a number of other ways to look “perfect.” (Falletta). This quote is eye-opening to me, because these apps are very popular and feeds negative body image. The apps that are offered don’t only enhance faces, but can also change bodies, making it easy for teenagers to make themselves slimmer and change things they don’t like about their bodies. These apps are teaching teens so reject their bodies and change them into how others want to see them.
The editing apps have very negative affects on teens and causing more pressure on them than needed. From the same article, “Not only does this mean that girls will have lower self-esteem each time they feel they need to edit themselves, it also means that friends of these girls will become more self-conscious because if they’re not using these photo editing apps, they’ll feel they’re not as “pretty” as their friends who are using the app.”(Falletta). The apps aren’t only making you look pretty, but also hurting your self-esteem. When teens, particularly girls use apps to “fix” their bodies , what they don’t know is that it's only hurting their body image.
Not only has social media led to poor body image, but it can also lead to eating disorders among teens. The National Eating Disorders Organizations article “Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders”, discusses the effects of social media on eating disorders. It says, “Research is increasingly clear that media does indeed contribute and that exposure to and pressure exerted by media increase body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.” (“Media, Body Image”). Because of the poor body image caused by constant social media, eating problems are now occurring.
This has made me realize how much of an issue social media has become. Because of the constant worry of impressing your “friends” on instagram or facebook, teens are affecting their mental and physical health. The TIME article “How Social Media Is a Toxic Mirror”, talks about how social media has become a “toxic mirror” and just how much it is affecting teen’s body images (Simmons). It is interesting to me how the amount of “likes” you get on a picture can rank you, and the power of the pictures posted on social media. For example, if I didn’t get the desired amount of “likes” on my instagram picture, I would feel obligated to take it down, and post at a different time. It is not reasonable to judge peoples and pictures based on their amount of “likes” and “followers” yet, teenagers do it anyways.
Social media is consuming teenagers lives, but mostly affecting their body image negatively. Through these few week of research, I have learned much about the major and minor effects social media can have on teens self-esteem.Through this research, it has taught me not to compare myself to others on any social media platform, and to not let social media take over my life. I believe that body image is an extremely important subject,a and keeping a good self esteem and body image is very critical especially in the teen years. Not many things can be done to save teens from the negativity of social media and the pressure to fix their bodies, except for deleting the apps all together, and ignoring others opinions. Now, every time I scroll through instagram after school, I will understand why these girls feel they have to edit their bodies, and not look down on them, but feel supportive.