It’s not a mystery why people in 2018 tend to have a negative body image. Everyday society wakes up and scrolls through the highlight reel of others’ lives. We don’t see self doubt or insecurities on Instagram feeds, but does that mean others don’t feel what we feel too? Social media has quickly become a toxic mirror for the public eye.
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and more social media apps have become a platform for people to prove and validate their lives as worthy. Emily Hampton, a mentor for young girls on the brink of real society, emphasizes the importance of staying out of this virtual world which seems to have saturated the entire population. Hampton counsels young girls through a program called Shine On! Her latest work with the Shine On! Team was leading a workshop about social media and the way we perceive others online. She wants the youth to know how important it is not to compare one’s appearance with pictures posted on the internet.
“I think people are obsessed with posting on social media because we want people to think we are living our best lives,” Hampton said.
“It’s important to know that humans are not flawless and that social media isn’t the best representation of anyone.”
On a more serious note, the debate on whether social media causes body image issues is still up for debate. Do people go as far as eating disorders to look like these “Instagram models?” The answer isn’t entirely known, but can be argued.
“Social media has altered body image in women, for sure. We naturally look at other people’s posts and stack ourselves with that person and think, ‘Wow I am not that,’ or ‘What am I doing wrong to where I don’t look like that?’” Hampton said.
“Too many people in this day in age think negatively about their bodies and self esteem is way too altered.”
Bridget Doherty, a digital marketing professional, sees the trend of posting first hand. She emphasizes that mental illness and eating disorders should not be an ongoing fad on social media. It is one thing to post about battling and surviving an illness to inspire others to keep fighting, but another to post for likes and comments feeding into a new trend.
“Instagram influencers all pretend to have a positive body image and then when it’s trendy to talk about mental health they turn it around and throw in how they’re battling anorexia,” Doherty said.
“Society doesn’t need the back and forth. That’s where the problem starts. Is it cool to be confident or is it cool to feel flawed?”
Visual platforms keep these lines blurry. A lot of people tend to link their self worth to their looks. Seeing people thrive through social media can alter the self esteem of the viewer because they wonder why they don’t appear that way too.
“It’s tricky to be envious of others through the media because we don’t know what’s behind the scenes. We peer into the highlight of others’ lives and a lot of the time the image is distorted,” Doherty said.
“It’s great to see the good in others but I think it’s so important that we all see that same good in ourselves.”