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How Social Media Affects Body Image and What to Do

Apr 21, 2017

Today’s world is ruled by social media; most people cannot imagine their lives without it. Social media is not a bad thing when used correctly, but when young people get too influenced by what other people show off, the way they perceive themselves can get severely affected.

How Social Media Affects Body Image

It is a common thought that the more followers and likes someone has, the more popular he/she is. Social media provides an anonymous and interactive environment where positive or negative comments and feedback come in an unfiltered way, creating greater pressure on appearance and making people become less confident about their body image.

Many social media users only care about their appearance in front of a camera, waiting for the correct angle, the perfect timing, the adequate pose or the best light. Often, they take thousands of selfies to find the perfect one and then they use a filter or editing tool to eliminate any possible imperfection. This makes many other people, especially a young one, compare themselves to those seemingly perfect users on the screen, hence starting to develop body image issues.

Wonder how social media affects body image? Social media addiction can get to a point where it can become a pathological need to have as many likes and followers as possible, no matter what it takes to get them. Sometimes they can even get depressed or have an underachievement feeling if other people’s reaction to their selfies or social media posts are not what they expected to be.

It is not something uncommon to get trapped into a vicious circle; the more followers and likes someone has, the more attention he/she will want, so he/she starts taking better selfies and losing more weight or building up more muscle. All these eventually lead to deeper body image issues.

What to Do to Prevent Social Media's Effects on Body Image

How social media affects body image? You already know the answer, so what can be done to change this situation?

More awareness about the negative effects that social media images can have on a young person's mind and body should be established, and celebrities and public figures should start to take natural and less staged pictures to show themselves as the way they really are, with all the flaws and defects that every human being has.

Give education for young people to help them realize the truth about the pictures and content on the social media. For instance, teach them how to tell whether a photo has been modified or not, or show them what people have done to make a perfect picture. When people become conscious that most pictures are staged and modified, and that in real life nobody actually looks the way he/she shows on social media, then developing body image issues is less likely to happen.

When someone realizes that people will always post their better picture online and the fact that people take thousands of selfies before posting, then they will begin to understand that making comparisons is pointless and only show a lack of self-worth.

How Can Parents Help with Young People's Body Image Issues?

How social media affects body image? What can you do if your children have body image issues? 

1. Discuss with Your Child About Social Media Use

Have a thoughtful talk with your children about how they feel when scrolling through social media pages, and try to make them feel understood and supported by making no judgments. Find out whether they compare themselves to other people and, if that is the case, how often and why they do it.

2. Remind Your Child That They're More Than the Way They Look

Tell your children that appearance is not the only thing they have, and remind them that what may seem as something very important right now will change in a few years.

3. Talk About What Their Body Can Do

Remind your children that their bodies can do amazing things like dancing, painting, or playing certain instruments. Make them focus on the good things above the bad ones.