We often come across pictures of skinny models and muscular bodies on social media. Whether intentionally or not, these photos tell us what an “ideal body” should look like, and make us think we should be the same way to be accepted by others.
Considering that an average teen spends around three hours on social media, how is it affecting the way we look at ourselves?
What scientists say
Plenty of research has drawn links between social media usage and self-esteem. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media are susceptible to depression, anxiety, and other self-esteem related mental illnesses.
The Journal of the American Medical Association further states that “[social media] may also expose adolescents to idealized self-presentations that negatively influence body image and encourage social comparisons.”
Men are targets of similar social pressures as well. Research published by the American Psychological Association found that males who viewed images of physically fit men tended to think of themselves as weak and less attractive, compared to those who viewed neutral images.
How celebrities impact teens
A big problem is that this negative influence often comes from famous figures and celebrities. With millions of people (including teenagers) following them on various social media platforms, even a short tweet or a careless picture can have detrimental effects on their audience.
In March, British actress and activist Jameela Jamil condemned American media personality Khloé Kardashian for promoting weight loss products to her fans, many of whom are young girls.
“If you’re too irresponsible to tell them the side effects of this non-FDA approved product that most doctors are saying aren’t healthy,” said Jameela. “Then I guess I have to.”
On the other hand, there are also many celebrities who aren’t afraid to speak openly on their personal struggles with self-esteem and share what they’ve learned.
Earlier this year, English singer Sam Smith posted a shirtless photo (above) of himself on social media. “Some may take this as narcissistic and showing off,” he commented. “But if you knew how much courage it took to do this and the body trauma I have experienced as a kid, you wouldn’t think those things.”
A movement towards body positivity
Recently, more and more people have been stepping up to promote positive self-image. Lots of body positive accounts, with photos that embrace bodies of all sizes and shapes, are on the rise on social media.
Above are pictures from some of the most popular body-positive pages on Instagram. Following such pages can encourage people to feel good about not only their bodies but themselves as a whole.
There are also accounts like @beauty.false that uploads photos of famous models and celebrities in real life, without makeup or Photoshop. This helps people realize that not everything they see on social media is true – most of them are professionally enhanced pictures.
How can I love myself more?
AISB Middle School Counselor Stephanie Finnell says that it’s common for teens to have insecurities about their physical appearance. This is because we become more self-conscious as our bodies start to change. Here are some of her tips:
Tip 1. Eat when you’re hungry, rest when you’re tired. exercise to feel energetic. Taking care of your body is the first and most important step.
Tip 2. Focus on what you CAN do. There’s so many more things you can experience, love, and appreciate, than what you cannot do.
Tip 3. Unfollow people that spread negativity, and surround yourself with those who truly appreciate your inner strength and beauty.
Tip 4. Write down a (physical) list of things you love about yourself. Taking time to think about your best qualities will boost your confidence.
Tip 5. Don’t let a comment from someone else determine how you feel about yourself. Get in the habit of dismissing them.
Tell us: What helps you gain confidence and feel good about yourself? Share in the comments below.
I think that this article is very thoughtful and can help a lot of kids that feel insecure about their bodies and it could help them understand that they are perfectly fine however they look.
Something that helps me gain confidence about myself is, as you said in the article, to think about the things I’m good at.
I gain confidence by trying to get a good grade.
I feel good about myself when I get a good grade.
Friends, they can say really nice things about you and they make you feel better if you are feeling down. You can trust them and they will always be there for you.
I think that this article is very interesting and can help people who have insecurities about themselves. Good job.
I agree with most of what she said but when it comes to being able to follow celebrities I feel like that is completely normal and shouldn’t be a problem if you know how to use social media properly.
I like to surround myself with people who I know are supportive about how I look and are not criticizing because that also contributes to low self esteem.
We used this article as the basis for a conversation about self esteem in our grade 8 Advisory. The main take away from the discussion was that since social media can be good and bad in many ways, the best thing we can do is try to understand how we personally react to different kinds of posts in order to take control of how we interact with it.
I get confidence and good self respect and esteem when I help my friends with something that has been bothering them for a while and when they feel good that the problem has been fixed. Also that my friends know that they can talk to me about anything and they do and this shows that I can be reliable and dependable and a good friend overall. I also love getting good grades and good ATL’s because this proves all the hard work that I do.
I took away from this post that you should love your self and your body no matter what other people say.
Great article! It really shows how people use social media in a way that is harmful to their life. As a suggestion, I think you should add a short bit in the article talking about what social media is in essence and how social media itself is not a problem, but the people that use it and how they use it is a problem
Ideal bodies don’t upset me, they inspire me. If u actually get upset from Instagram models then you are booing yourself because you are great the way you are.
This article showed how social media effects people and ways we can stop that. I believe it is important to educate about social medias how to use it properly to insure that people keep safe and happy when they are online. A good job to Anna and Flora!
I think that what people think about your appearance doesn’t really matter because if you think that you look good just the way you are that’s the only thing that matters.
I really liked the last page because it showed people that were not shy to show their body and it’s a good example for other people.
I like the author’s tips.
I think it would help me. I think this is a great newspaper.
This was really interesting. I liked the pictures that you included.
I also liked the quotes.
Something I liked about this article are the quotes from experts, and I liked the message because It is important for other people to know this.
I liked the message that the author was trying to send because a lot of people can relate to this. Also, I liked that you quoted important people and showed pictures of how it looks in real life.
I like your article since it’s true what was written and the tips are good and helpful.