Since its creation in 2010, Instagram has become widely popular, especially among college students and teenage girls. Being one of the most downloaded applications, it’s hard to find someone nowadays who isn’t using the acclaimed social media platform. But is this public spotlight created by Instagram damaging to self-esteem?
Keeping up with the latest trends and having a certain aesthetic have become social expectations. Young women who are not satisfied with the way they look feel pressured to modify their pictures so that they can appear thinner, have sharper features and show off a flawless complexion. They “edit” themselves to attract more followers and boost their reputation.
Body image is a struggle that many high school and college students deal with, and this can lead to eating disorders and unhealthy dieting behaviors. Constant exposure to Instagram models and photoshopped pictures can distort one’s idea of an attainable body. Studies show that 58 percent of college-aged girls have a goal weight they wish to achieve and that the media can influence their perception of what is attractive. However, the women represented in the media, like Instagram and television, only make up five percent of the population. The look that many girls try to achieve is highly unattainable.
Although the concept of Photoshop isn’t new, it has become increasingly normalized within the past few years. Top influencers such as the Kardashians, have been accused of using it to enhance their features and slim their bodies. Kim Kardashian alone has an audience of 120 million people that follow her and view her posts daily.
Because of this, millions of girls see these perfect celebrity bodies, most of which have undergone plastic surgery or editing, and are left with the impression that they do not fit the mold society has formed to represent the ideal body type.
According to a study by Mercy Multiplied, 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25. It is also important to note that 72 percent of teens use Instagram daily. There are a variety of factors that could lead to eating disorders, but scrolling through an app and seeing edited and airbrushed bodies can definitely lower self-esteem and lead to body dysmorphia.
Instagram can provide a toxic mirror through which young women view their bodies in a distorted fashion. Comparing one’s appearance with that of a celebrity becomes a problem when girls look at someone with the perfect hourglass figure and believe it is natural, thinking to themselves,
“Why don’t I look like this?”
“Why wasn’t I born with this body?”
“This is the standard of flawlessness that I should be pushing myself to achieve.”
Women with large platforms on social media may not always be real with their followers, so it is important to note that not everything seen on the app is authentic and achievable. Girls should not grow up thinking there is something wrong with them because they do not look like the women they constantly see in the media.
In a day and age where body positivity has become is hard to achieve, it is important to support all body types and embrace the differences that make us unique. If you’re looking for an inspiring body positivity advocate on Instagram to bring further joy, light and realism to your feed, consider following @bodyposipanda. She is very open about her journey through the ups and downs of quitting weight loss, and how accepting her body has changed her life and encouraged her to motivate others. She hopes people will establish a lifestyle that makes them happier as opposed to “prettier” or “sexier”.
An app with as much influential power as Instagram should be used to celebrate all people and body types, not to inspire unhealthy dieting and eating disorders. Never feel obligated to fulfill a lifestyle that you are not comfortable with simply because you think it will make you an influencer on Instagram.
(Featured image courtesy of https://www.todaytesting.com.)
Email Gabby at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @gabby_campos13.