Impact of social media on Body Confidence
“While social media is not the cause of low self-esteem, it has all the right elements to contribute to it. Social media creates an environment where disordered thoughts and behaviours really thrive.”
At BARE, we strongly promote body confidence and we stand for self-appreciation, especially as an online platform. In this blog, we at bare would like to highlight the impact social media can have regarding body confidence. Body image is the mental representation we create of what we think we look like it may or may not bear close relation to how others actually see us.
The Negative Impacts
It’s not uncommon for you to come across pictures of glamorous celebrities, or just those friends of yours on holiday, travelling and making you wish you were in their place. You’re not the only one who feels this way as there are billions of people on social media scrolling through picture-perfect content.
Believe it or not, this not only affects your confidence physically but very much so mentally. Platforms like Instagram not only expose young men and women to beauty standards exaggerated with apps which allow its users to tune and modify facial features resulting in disproportionate “beauty”.
Effects of this overblown exposure result in depletion of confidence, especially within young persons as they are still unsure of how they might end up looking past puberty or simply unable to project confidence due to hormonal factors like acne and weight gain. Researches being conducted reveal that this is a major factor in eating disorders and body dysmorphia in both males and females. In the UK over the last 3 years, there has been a peak in eating disorders when compared to the 2000s.
A large fraction of these people is the youth who are increasingly using popular unhealthy methods of dieting such as crash dieting, taking diet pills or laxatives, and self-induced vomiting due to negative body images. A study conducted in 2014 by Florida State University reported a correlation to facebook and young women’s growing disordered eating behaviours.
Traditionally most of the concerns around social media and body image have revolved around girls. An increasing amount of health professionals and scientists are turning their attention to boys as well. Although boys are less likely to talk about their insecurities a growing body of research indicates that they too experience anxiety about their bodies.
Eating disorders are also on the rise amongst boys, particularly athletes, there are also concerns that some boys as young as 10 years old are becoming obsessed with building a muscular physique. A condition that is thought to be related to changes in how muscular males sex symbols have become.
Research into social media and the impact it has on someone’s body confidence or body image still needs to be carried out in larger quantities due to there being fairly few studies. Therefore, an inability to prove whether social media platforms like Instagram or facebook cause people to have negative perceptions of their own body.
Throughout the late 1900s, all we saw on television and fashion magazines were glorified 0 figures, S Line ideals and the ushering of its importance, all so that women would feel dissatisfied with their bodies and go buy more diet-friendly books. These massive fashion and diet companies profit from it.
Instead of photographing women who have healthy lifestyles, these companies focused on those with models whose only job was to constantly exercise and maintain strict diets. This marketing strategy has been adapted to social media platforms. Selling diet products, fashion products, and beauty products, promoting them using skinny models/actors and influencers. The lack of equal representation across all kinds of people causes depletion in body confidence and in a growing number of cases of depression.
There is slow growth in research regarding the impact of Social Media on body confidence both physically and mentally. However, there hasn’t been any changes by the media to combat body dissatisfaction, body dysmorphia and eating disorders. In fact, social media may have more of a negative impact than all other sources of media combined. This is because it plays a big role in the youth lifestyle compared to other platforms. In recent years, youngsters not only deal with what society has deemed an acceptable image, but also the bodies of their more confident peers who post a lot of selfies and photographs of themselves online.
Over the last few decades, mass media’s depiction of women portrays a standard of beauty that requires a lifestyle focused around body image. With intervention, we can bump up the measure of physical self-identity and self-acceptance.
The Positive Impacts
Recent years have been different. From 2015 to 2019, popular influencers, who usually represent common people are helping many people to find strength and confidence within themselves. This also helps those with eating disorders to find the strength needed to try out therapy and seek treatment. There have been recent implementations on social media regulations to ban certain hashtags, on various social media platforms. The content on these hashtags causes self-destruction such as #proana (anorexia), #promia (bulimia), #thinspogram etc. all to remove feeds that promote an unhealthy lifestyle.
The National Eating Disorders Association have made efforts to promote themselves and build a social media presence, similar to an influencer. They have made their website Proud2BMe in 2011. This website supports youngsters to have a healthy body and mind image and find the confidence they had lost to computer engineered ideal standards. To replace the unhealthy hashtags, they have implemented pro-health hashtags such as #prorecovery, #foodisfuel, #loveyourself and many more!
The platform Instagram is being used by many people to project progress and recovery to a better, more confident lifestyle. Food feeds show healthy meals that are the right proportions for the right size and body type, followed by pictures of common people themselves explaining their own challenging stories of everything they have accomplished so far.
The positive results that come from these new impacts can be seen with clothing branding introducing size 12, 14 and 16+ models. Makeup brands adding more diversity when it comes to makeup shades to fit a variety of skin tones. Plus-size mannequins have also because the latest trend making sure no one feels left out. Teenagers and Adults both now can see a lot of positive quotes and messages online, constantly reminding them not to conform to ridiculous looks and not let social media have such power and control over your unique personality that exists to be different from others.