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Social media: a means to uplift you or pull you down

Student journalists Maanya and Rupangana explore how social media affects body image

Social media: a means to uplift you or pull you down

In this day and age, social media plays a big factor in how we lead our lives. It shapes our understanding of the world. We can find ourselves idolizing whatever garners more attention and appreciation. Numerous people from various age groups are bombarded with images of bodies that are deemed “ideal” by society, as soon as they open their social media. This results in us feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with ourselves if we do not fit the criteria of ideal body type or skin complexion. This can lead to us developing a certain body image. Body image can be described as the way we look at ourselves and more specifically our bodies. Oftentimes there is a link between how we think of our bodies and our sense of self-worth. Having a negative view of oneself can lead to multiple ramifications.

We often don’t realize that social media influencers or celebrities are most likely to put their best foot forward and share images that are photoshopped or clicked from different angles. Due to this the images or the portrayal of their life isn’t realistic. However, because we consume their content daily we somehow start to think that we are always required to look that way. It is human nature to compare ourselves to others and try and gain what we don’t possess. This is common in both genders. Studies (link to the article )show that four in ten teenagers have said that images on social media caused them to worry about their bodies. And another study done by the Florida House Experience (link to the study)  87% of women and 65% of men compares themselves with what they see on these social media apps.

This comparison and dissatisfaction can be detrimental to our personal growth since it prevents us from accepting our natural selves. We can end up in a cycle of negative thoughts, and develop cognitive disorders as well as eating disorders. When interviewing a 15-year-old girl, she mentioned how “At the end of the day your image of yourself matters more than anything else.”  We have had the opportunity to interact with some experts (counselors at school) who explained that this psychological pressure that we place on ourselves can lead to a lot of consequences. We might underperform at our workplace because we have a low sense of self-worth. We can also develop a tendency to overwork ourselves to do well in other areas of our life to fill the void of dissatisfaction we feel from our bodies.

Trends such as the one where girls tighten their t-shirts to show their “hourglass” bodies can be extremely damaging and can cause major insecurity that can cause body dysmorphia, a condition where someone spends a lot of time worrying about their physical appearance. In India, there has been a rise in skin bleaching, with numerous models being called that are fairer or others being offered job opportunities more compared to darker-skinned individuals.

There are many measures that can be taken in order to resolve this problem. Firstly, regulating how much time we spend on social media is of great importance. Other than this we must also research and gain an insight into the reality of social media trends, crash diets, and beauty products. This will ensure we aren’t misguided. We must also be mindful of how we feel after going through social media. However, all these would require some amount of self-awareness, time, and effort.

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