Social media is a recent phenomenon that many people don’t understand. The older generations especially don’t see how it can affect the younger populations day to day lives.
There have always been certain standards in the media. With social media in play, those standards get very specific. Young girls are exposed to all sorts of image ideals that feel they have to live up to.
Research has shown that social media has led to eating disorders in both men and women. Studies have shown that more than half of teenage girls have had eating disorder behaviors. At least 1/3 of boys have as well. An alarming number of teenagers actually use social media to support their eating disorders. Teenage girls that spend lots of time on sites like Facebook and Instagram actually have a higher chance of having an eating disorder.
How Social Media Makes It Worse
Media has always been around in one form or another. Be it in magazines, newspapers or television. But social media takes it to a new extreme.
From a young age, kids have access to platforms where they can deeply examine other people’s opinions. They can read opinions from anyone about anything, including themselves. So they might see that they don’t match up to what is considered beautiful.
That’s where the trouble starts. It isn’t new that diet pills and beauty regimens are pushed at women. But now there is a never-ending source of it. Everywhere on the internet beauty being the basis for self-worth is pushed.
There are actually whole sections of the internet promoting eating disorders. Thinspo and thinspiration are terms used to describe people who are desirably thin. Pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia communities exist.
It’s frightening to know that teenagers not only have access to this but that it is unmonitored.
They’re encouraged to post pictures of themselves or their “progress”. They open themselves up for judgment and then people share tips on how to drop more weight to get to their “goals.”
The community also helps people find tips on hiding their problems or to make them worse.
Social media doesn’t necessarily cause eating disorders. Instead, it very much triggers people who already have issues. Self-esteem and body image problems aren’t new, but having access to these harmful communities is. It can push teens beyond the boundaries they might not have otherwise crossed.
It’s Not Always A Bad Thing
Of course, when bringing up the evils of social media, it is important also to recognize the good it can do. Body positivity is a whole new movement that has taken over social media in recent years.
The thinspiration scene is often kicked off of mainstream social media these days. That is because it is considered harmful to children. Instead, there is a sea of bloggers and influencers who love themselves as they are.
They promote recovery from problems such as eating disorders or self-harm disorders. They claim to accept every bump and curve of who they are. It’s important to remember that your body gives you life and you should love it no matter what.
That is a great motto for young girls to learn, and without access to social media, they might not have been exposed to it.