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The Devastating Effects of Social Media on Body Image

The Effects of Social Media on Body Image

Table of Contents

Summary

There is no doubt that there is a great pressure in society for young people to fit many social norms. When examining body image, many young teens are pressured to fit an ideal body image especially with the popularity of social media. It is hard not to be influenced by social media's “ideal” body type.

Social Pressures on Body Image

There is a ton of pressure in society for young people to fit many social norms. Specifically, when examining body image, many teens are pressured to fit an ideal body image shown and idealized on social media. Because of this, it is hard not to abide by social media’s standard for an “ideal” body type. Although social media and television are some of the main outlets for this portrayal, they are not the only factors when dealing with this issue.

Aiming for the “ideal” body has drastically increased throughout the decades among young men and women. Social expectations from social media platforms, magazines, television shows, and celebrities are at least partially responsible for the chronic states of bodily dissatisfaction and unhealthy attitudes. The media constantly portrays ideal body expectation roles for men and women. For example, the female’s portrayal of the body is delicate, slim, and beautiful, while men are expected to be powerful, masculine, and strong.

Additionally, many individuals will take supplements or surgically alter their appearance to attain an “ideal” body, regardless of the potential risks. Also, social pressures and the portrayal of an ideal body type can lead to unhealthy eating habits such as fasting or purging. Unfortunately, these practices often lead to disordered eating such as anorexia and bulimia.

Media Influence as a Social Issue

Media appears to be the main factor impacting the individual views regarding body image perception. The widespread use of social media such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, etc. has been a vital trend that has become almost necessary for someone to have to be considered part of the norm in society. 

Although this social issue affects both genders, it often plays a larger role for young women, due to the internalization of a thinner body image idealized on social media. The media is a powerful source that many people follow to be considered a great fit for societal norms. However, the effect of the severe obsession with flaunting the “ideal” body figure can be the result of an eating disorder or over-exercising the body.

Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Although social media is often a beneficial way to enhance communication and relationships, it can also have negative consequences. Social media has become so popular that young children will inevitably be exposed to it. They aspire to look like the celebrities and stars they follow, which unfortunately is only attainable through plastic surgery and rigid unhealthy diets. Many become obsessive and unnoticeably destruct their self-esteem while others end up with eating disorders. Sadly, these expectations of ideals are unrealistic and often unattainable. Constant exposure to unrealistic expectations leads to self-consciousness and worrying minds in regards to their body shape. This is mentally draining and adds great pressure to people of all ages, especially teens. 

Social media comes with many negative psychological consequences such as physical and mental health problems. To name a few, disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder, depression, or low self-esteem may stem from the use of social media. Unhealthy consequences such as steroid abuse, cosmetic surgery, and unbalanced dieting habits also arise from the exposure of social media.  Unfortunately, social media encourages young individuals to evaluate their bodies and compare them to unrealistic ideals leading them to drastic and unhealthy lifestyles. 

Popular culture mainly targets young men and women to be a certain way, for example, how to act, how to speak, how to dress, along with other characteristics that are currently trending in the media. The reason why younger individuals tend to feel dissatisfied with their appearance may be due to body ideals communicated through the media beginning at an early childhood stage until present time. This social problem has significantly increased over the years where youth’s body shape and size obsession has become a normal part of life.

Stop Body Shame and Pursue Body LOVE

Don’t allow social media dictate the way you act, speak, look, and feel about yourself. Limit the time you scroll on social media if you catch yourself feeling some type of way. Practice positive affirmations to improve your body image. Affirmations are a proven method to improve and nurture your well-being. Start by speaking positive affirmations to yourself as part of your morning, evening, or night routine. These may sound like:

  • I embrace and honor my body as it is 
  • I love the reflection in the mirror 
  • I trust my body
  • I am enough 
  • I am beautiful inside and out 
  • I only have one body and will nourish and take care of it 
  • I am awesome just the way I am 
  • I will treat my body with tenderness and kindness
  • I love and respect myself 
  • I love my body because it is my home for the rest of my life
  • My body is the most amazing part of me
  • I’m proud of my body 
  • I LOVE ME!!!

We may not be able to change how body image is portrayed in the media, however, we are able to cultivate body love within. May we nourish our body with love and kindness. May we speak to ourselves with tenderness and respect. May we love ourselves fully and deeply. We are only given one body for the rest of our lives, let’s show ourselves how much love, honor, and respect we can give to us.  Sending you virtual hugs and support as you practice daily positive affirmations to help nourish and love yourself unconditionally!

About The Author

Picture of Jacqueline Garcia, LCSW

Jacqueline Garcia, LCSW

Jacqueline Garcia is a bilingual Spanish Speaking Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She grew up in Tijuana, Mexico and came to the U.S. when she was 12. Her life experiences, transitions, intergenerational trauma, and family dynamics led her to become a therapist.

She has over 7 years of experience working with children, teens, adults, and families and received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from California State of San Bernardino. After completing her B.A., she attended the California State University of Fullerton where she earned her Master's Degree in Social Work.

Her clinical experiences range from mental health outpatient programs, non-profit organizations, and field-based community mental health. She specializes in working with and treating children and adolescents who suffer from depression, mood dysregulation, anxiety, trauma, behavioral issues, and a variety of life stressors.

She believes that prevention and early intervention are essential when facing adverse childhood experiences. Some interventions she practices include: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, Expressive Art Therapy, Dyadic Treatment, and Behavioral Therapy.

She is passionate about dismantling mental health stigma, creating a safe place for hope and healing. With dedication and passion, she believes that therapy is a powerful tool that can assist in improving the quality of life while dealing with life’s adversities.

Learn More About Jacquline

About the Author

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