Being a woman, since the dawn of time, has come with a lot of responsibilities. There are countless duties that come with being daughters, sisters, wives, being pregnant and trying so hard to be good mothers. On top of that, there is added pressure on us to be kind, soft spoken and put together at all times. In 2019, being a woman comes with all sorts of new struggles.
I am currently a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island, studying communicative disorders. I know first hand through countless conversations with friends and peers that one of the biggest problems girls at this age face is body image issues because of the amount of time we spend on social media, as well as what society teaches us at birth on what beauty is supposed to look like. If you or your friends have ever gone on rants about how insecure you’re feeling about your body, girl, you are not alone! There are plenty of things that are causing you and your friends to feel this way that you need to be aware of.
Growing up you are taught through media that to be pretty you need to fit a certain mold and how you are is not good enough. This message is shoved down our throats our whole lives. No matter where you look, you see a certain body type in magazines, TV and especially when you open up your phone. Social media apps love to broadcast the same body type, glamorize it and make girls who don’t fit this mold think negatively about themselves. Despite the fact that this body type they show is completely unrealistic.
Women use social media constantly. Whether we are checking Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or turning on the TV, it consumes us. Women are constantly being shown what ‘beautiful’ is and that they should look a certain way with a specific body type to be even worthy of love and affection. It is so sad, but it is a feeling every girl that is growing up with social media can relate to. I can’t even count the amount of time I have opened Instagram to see new photos of celebrities, or just people I know, post “hot” photos of themselves in bikinis or skin tight dresses that are being praised, making me feel ashamed of my own body. I know I could not or would not pose for a photo in the ways they do, nevermind post it because I don’t want so many people to be able to criticize and judge my body so easily. But we can’t help but compare ourselves to these girls that are getting millions of followers just for being good looking. It makes us look at our own following count and feel like we are not attractive because that number isn’t in the tens of thousands. This way of thinking is so harmful, because nobody is really letting us, or especially younger girls, know that they are beautiful no matter how many likes or followers they have, which leads to them feeling so bad about themselves.
The scariest part of this truth is that the more time women spend on social media, the worse they feel about their body. It’s been proven that women who spend more time on social media increase their chances of having body image issues, struggle with eating disorders and can suffer with many mental health problems. It is hard to believe your body is good enough if everyone online is telling you “Life hacks to be thinner/more attractive,” or when your favorite celebrity is endorsing diet pills every time you watch one of their instagram stories (that most likely don’t work).
Another issue with constantly viewing others on social media and comparing yourself to them is the added factor of Photoshop. ‘Looking better’ usually means having a skinnier waist, a thin face, arms,and legs, with wider hips and larger chest. However, in 2019 the app “FaceTune” is only $5 and literally anybody can use Photoshop to make themselves look like they have any body type they would like. This means that we are now not only looking at famous women that have altered their bodies, but even photos of our friends on Instagram that have altered their bodies.
This is really harmful because according to the National Eating Disorders Association, “People with a negative body image are more likely to develop an eating disorder.” This fact is scary because eating disorders are so damaging, physically and mentally, and are lifetime struggles that people deal with forever. The fact that social media images can cause such a devastating effect on someone is so heartbreaking and something girls must keep in mind when they start to compare themselves to unrealistic images they see online.
Some may say that girls should just not have social media and then they won’t have to deal with these issues, and that if they do not have all of these apps then it shouldn’t be a problem. However, that is not the case. Years ago, you just needed a landline or payphone to keep in contact with your friends, but as a teen in 2019, you need social media to know what your friends are doing and talk to them.
Social media and the standards it sets for women’s beauty standards are detrimental to young womens’ mental health and how one views her own body. It can alter confidence and lead to long term consequences such as eating disorders. However, even if girls know this, they will not stop using it. So there must be changes made.
I think a great start would be ending Photoshop as a whole. It is time we stop pretending that having a “perfect” body, like superstar Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner, is easily attainable because it is not. Celebrities use Photoshop, and thousands of dollars on surgeons and dermatologists to achieve this perfect look. We should all start sharing the truth instead of covering ourselves with filters and Photoshop. It is sad, unhealthy and disappointing.
So many girls of all ages are struggling with the way they view themselves. Just know that you are beautiful, unique and loved. Your social media pages do not define you. The amount of followers you have or likes you get on a post do not define you. You define you, so spread the word. Let others know how beautiful they are. Use social media apps less. You do not need to be constantly refreshing your like count after you post a photo, take the pressure off of yourself! You do not need to change yourself, because you are beautiful the way you are.