What people don’t see on social media


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With social media platforms more accessible than ever, debate over body image has begun to affect users' mental health.

Mary James, Memorial Staff Writer

As social media continues to play a central role in the lives of teenagers it influences and alters the idea of body image and the perception of beauty. Social media not only exposes individuals to certain beauty standards and cultural ideas of their image, but it also can lead to physical and mental illnesses such as eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression.

According to an article on ProjectKnow.com published by Brittany Tackett, as many as 20 million American women and 10 million American men will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime, a large portion of those numbers are adolescents and teens.

Social media can be a ginormous contributor for such eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Images a person sees on their social media platforms can play a huge role in body image. An eating disorder treatment center in Chicago revealed that between 30 and 50 percent of their teen patients used social media personalities as a role model for their body image, largely contributing to their eating disorders and depression according to Time.com.

An article on ReachOut.com states, social media can set an opinion in a person’s mind that in order to be attractive, a person must be thin, and if they don’t fit social media’s standards, they aren’t pretty. However in reality this is not the case. To be attractive a person doesn’t have to fit the mold seen on social media; instead, they just have to be confident in their own skin and body. People shouldn’t base beauty and attractiveness on what they see on social media, they should base it on confidence and a person’s inner beauty.

People should limit the time they spend on social media and replace that time by building self confidence. This can be done by treating and caring for oneself, practicing self-compassion, as they will begin to have more motivation, energy to act and other positive things. By doing this, individuals can boost their self esteem creating more self confidence in themselves.

All in all, social media has mainly negative factors when it comes to body image and self confidence. It exposes a person to body shaming as well as promoting body obsessions, comparisons and competitions all of which contribute to creating eating disorders. However, if used in a positive way, individuals can spread positive messages and inspire others to love their bodies through social media.

Contact Mary James at [email protected].