Body Image refers to the mental representation that an individual creates but it does not necessarily have to bear a close relation of how other people view your appearance. Body image has a great impact on how people behave and doesnt just happen. Various factors tend to influence the phenomenon of body image which includes peers, parenting, and social media. The media contributes in the shaping of gender norms and display of body image considering that most of the young people are not only passive media consumers but are also sharing and creating media messages about the appearance of their peers. The social media plays a great role in the shaping of beauty and body image standards. The use of social media challenges dominant beauty and body image standards (Grabe and Hyde 460 ).
Beauty standards refer to the belief that the physical attractiveness should be considered as being an essential asset of a woman and something that all women should be determined to maintain and also achieve. On the other hand, body image refers to an individuals perception the sexual or aesthetics attractiveness of their body. An individuals sense of their physical appearance which can be in relation to some cultural ideal or their own physical appearance can influence or shape their body image.
The increase in the use of social media is playing a significant role in the lives of people. It has had a substantial influence on body image, and the perception of beauty has continued to grow. It has had a great challenge on the beauty standards of individuals as it has not only exposed the young people both the female and male to a certain level of beauty standards but has also contributed towards the development of individual eating disorders at some point in their lives (Willett 18). The more people look at the perfect images of photos that are posted on the social media sites and fail to see the same when they look at themselves they tend to feel worse about themselves since it is a cycle that leads to discontent. The more the level of discontent compared to the social media supported norms the high the level of negativity regarding our body image which results in body control behaviors. Most of the people who are affected tend to be the teens and those in the adolescent stage. Some of the eating disorders that have been influenced by the social media include taking diet pills, self-induced vomiting, and crash dieting (Thompson, et al. 47).
According to a study that the University of Haifa conducted teenage girls who spend more time on the social media such as Facebook are at a higher risk of engaging themselves in different eating disorders and also tend to have a negative body image. Most of the young girls on social media tend to compare their body shape with those of other women who are celebrities when they post their photos on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or even YouTube. In the black beauty story by Riley, she says that when she was a child, no one loved extra meat on their bones and went to the extent of exercising to the fitness gurus of Jane Fonda. Riley after she had added weight she decided to hit the gym class as people around her didnt say anything good about her body which resulted in her having a negative body image and low self-esteem about herself. She strived hard to lose the weight to maintain beauty standards. The social media has resulted in the objectification of celebrity bodies by individuals using the social media and also of their peers once they post their photos on their timeline such as the selfies. People tend to comment on those photos which increase the teens anxiety to have a perfect body as well, and this results even in other people having a negative thought regarding their appearance and also lowers their self-esteem (Tiggemann and McGill 32). For instance, Rileys story tries to compare the black and the white woman body image. The black women tend to receive positive comments regarding their bodies. Most of the white women who are overweight appear to be embarrassed about their bodies and end up starving themselves before going for dates. The social media have displayed the black womens tumultuous history with their skin color and hair and this, in turn, ruins the self-esteem of the white women. Most women who are overweight are rarely included in the acting movies or songs by the celebrities since they are not seen as being fabulous (Riley 365). The social media has resulted in teenagers using different ways that could impact their lives negatively to improve their beauty standards to look more attractive. For example, some have done plastic surgery to increase the size of their different body parts which could affect their health negatively while others use steroids to build their muscles. Donald Trumps in his tweet says that he likes women who are neat and orderly since most people consider the beauty standards of a woman to be very important .In Kendrick Lamar song of be humble she tries to emphasize as to why women should have beauty standards and stop using photoshop and improve on their body image ("Kendrick Lamar - Humble").
The social media has not influenced my perception of beauty or body standards. Most of the people who have a great influence on our own body image as we compare ourselves to them are the celebrities. The reason as to why the social media has not influenced my perception of body standards and beauty is because the celebrities are not the only people who can be my role models. I have focused more on how I can be a better role model since most people thats what they are failing to do. I believe that my attitude is a reflection of what my mind is fed with. I mainly focus on issues that the social media portray positively and inspire me as well as others.
Another reason that the media has not influenced my perception of beauty and body standards is because I am actively aware of the things that could have a negative impact on my body image and self-esteem and hence am always prepared on the different ways to deal with them. Some of the images portrayed in the social media tend to be unrealistic and cannot be changed since they could be caused by individual genes hence natural and cannot be changed. Some people tend to be skinny despite them eating a lot of food while others tend to be fat despite them being on diet. I have learnt that the body image and my physical appearance says very little about my value and character. Whether thin, huge, tall or short I have learnt to appreciate the uniqueness of what I have and working with it. I love Beyonces song of pretty hurts at the end of the day the looks doesnt matter .People dont have to undergo through torture so as to change their looks since what matters is what lies within us since perfection can turn out to be a disease. I have learnt that I cant fix what I dont see but all I need is change my perception towards my body image since am the only one who can change that ("Beyonce - Pretty Hurts (Video)") .
In conclusion what is portrayed on the social media tend to shape our perception either positively or negatively. A lot of issues can affect an individuals body image and beauty standard. The social media has played a major role in challenging dominant beauty and body image standards. People want to have the same body shapes as those of their peers which is often impossible, and this results in depression, stress, low self-esteem and having a negative perception of their body image. People want to have their body image the same as the photos they see the beauty bloggers and other celebrities posting on their social media timeline which makes them get involved in certain behaviors that affect them negatively. People should learn to accept their body image as they cannot get a sense of their body abilities and needs by comparing it to another person. Family and friends play a major role in body image development since we spend most of the time with them.
"Beyonce - Pretty Hurts (Video)." YouTube, 24 Apr. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXXQLa-5n5w.
Grabe, Shelly, L. Monique Ward, and Janet Shibley Hyde. "The role of the media in body image
Concerns among women: a meta-analysis of experimental and correlational
Studies." Psychological bulletin 134.3 (2008): 460.
"Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE." YouTube, 30 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvTRZJ-4EyI.
Riley, Sirena J. The Black Beauty Myth.
Thompson, J. Kevin, Michael D. Coovert, and Susan M. Stormer. Body image, social
Comparison, and eating disturbance: A covariance structure modeling investigation.
International Journal of Eating Disorders 26.1 (1999): 43-51.
Tiggemann, Marika, and Belinda McGill. "The Role of Social Comparison in the Effect of Magazine Advertisements on Women's Mood and Body Dissatisfaction." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, vol. 23, no. 1, 2004, pp. 23-44.
Willett, Edward. Negative Body Image. Rosen Pub, 2007.
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