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The Relationship Between Body Dissatisfaction and Social Media

Social media has influenced people's perception about body image. / Photo by: Panithan Fakseemuang via 123rf

 

Since the advent of technology, social media has been taking over human lives. Not only has it affected how people live on a daily basis, but also how society perceives the world they live in. One way or another, the public has become influenced by online discourse or debate on various issues. Social media also serves as a way to connect with people across the globe. 

However, social media has also affected the way humans view themselves. Women are becoming more conscious about their body image. In fact, recent statistics from Today showed that about 88% of women and 65% of men are heavily influenced by social media. Both sexes tend to compare themselves to images they see on the internet.

Additionally, 51% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 said they feel pressure to look good on social media, while 60% of women from all age groups stated that they should first be satisfied with how they look before posting photos on the internet. 

The Role of Social Media in Body Dissatisfaction

For the past few decades, people have consistently grown more conscious about their appearance and want to look their best. One dominant message that social media has portrayed for a long time now is that being ultra-thin and white is a benchmark of beauty. Having anything other than those characteristics is not acceptable.

As a result, more people have been having to deal with a negative body image, especially women. Many now obsess over the number of 'likes' and 'reactions' they get from their photos. For them, receiving such attention validates their well-being. It's now a common theme for women to invest money and dedicate time to looking pretty on social media. While this isn't exactly a bad thing, being overly conscious about how one looks on screen just to validate one's self is not good. Women's preoccupation with social media and obsession with how other women look compared to themselves may lead to body dissatisfaction. 

According to Project Know, women have grown to be dissatisfied with their bodies because several industries glorify thinness ideals and dramatically emphasize their importance. Although a lot of awareness campaigns and talks now try to correct those statements, the role of media in body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia has not changed over the years. 

As a result, social media has become a toxic platform for women with distorted body image and low self-esteem. They often feel that they don't belong and tend to isolate themselves from everyone around them. Additionally, Medical Xpress stated that these women who have negative views on their body image are more motivated to engage in physical activities or exercise in an attempt to improve their bodies. 

 

Women who are not satisfied with their body are more engaged to exercise as they want to achieve a certain body image. / Photo by: ammentorp via 123rf

 

Dr. Nancy Mramor, a psychologist and media expert from Pittsburgh, explained that this kind of view is problematic. It will not only affect them physically but also mentally and psychologically. Women who are dissatisfied with their bodies because of social media are more likely to develop an eating disorder. They also end up feeling depressed and become too obsessed with weight loss. 

Research conducted by Martin Graff, head of psychology research at the University of South Wales, conducted an experiment to prove this claim. He and his team gathered 100 female college students and asked about their social media use and their perceptions about body image. The researchers also asked them questions about societal views of the "ideal body," how much they worried about how their body was seen by others, and their motivation to improve their bodies.

The findings showed that women who spent more time on social media scored high on all of the three body image measures. This study showed that women tend to feel insecure about the feedback they get from posting their photos on social media. 

Young Women and Negative Body Image

Unfortunately, women who strive to look better on social media to validate themselves may often feel even worse in the process. A recent study conducted by Jacqueline Hogue, a PhD student in York University's Clinical Program, and Jennifer Mills, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, titled "The effects of active social media engagement with peers on body image in young women," showed how the images young women interact with online can affect how they feel about their own bodies. 

According to Science Daily, the research was participated by 118 female undergraduate students between ages 18 to 27 from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The researchers found that young women tend to feel more dissatisfied with their bodies as they see images of someone more attractive than they are on social media. "I think in a lot of cases, young women who post to social media are hoping to get positive reinforcement for what they're posting and the way in which women use social media is more appearance-based than it is for men," Mills said. 

In conclusion, young women who are more exposed to social media often compare themselves to others and may affect their well-being. 

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