Social Media Sabotaging Body Image And Self-Esteem

Instagram App in The Phone

A Sad Reality Of Our Virtual World

I feel my body isn’t good enough; I need to lose more weight to get those appealing body curves… God damn, why is everyone so beautiful on Instagram?

Apparently, trends like #instabod getting that perfect “Instagram Body” on social media is what makes us feel like this! When we say social media, we mostly refer to Instagram, Tick Tock, and Facebook. The content we see mostly in these social media platforms in feeds today is “appearance-focused content” which is doing nothing but lowering our self-esteem, sadly.

These social media applications are no longer for sharing persuasive content; these are now just serving as photo-sharing apps—causing lower self-esteem and mental health. Yes, believe it or not, following those fitness influencers is no longer productive practice we began with; it has now spiraled into a disaster centered on body image. 

This blog explores the impact of these social media on our self-worth, which is now hitting the hay somewhere in the dark corner. Let’s get down to it…

At a glance

  • With over-exposing towards an “idealized perfect-body type” social media can negatively impact your body image/self-image.
  • Trying to edit out the irrelevantly perceived flaws before posting a picture can be harmful, 
  • Posting real and raw selfies will help you build confidence and a better body image. 
  • Unfollowing those accounts that influence you towards getting into an idealized body shape and taking breaks from social media helps. 

What is body image?

Body image is defined as the mental picture we form of our body and our attitude toward its features. Whether positive or negative, body image is a cluster of feelings and thoughts we hold about our bodies. Many of us internalize messages from an early age that contribute to constructing positive or negative body image. This image we have in our heads is generally influenced by two major factors;

  • Internal Factors (how we feel personally)
  • External Factors (how social environment makes us feel)
Girl concerned about body image

Types of body images we consider in this real world

While these two factors influence how we measure our body image, there are four aspects, or let’s say, the types of body image, which explain it better;

Perceptual body image

This is how individuals perceive their bodies; however, they are sometimes wrong about it. The representation could be incorrect as compared to how they actually look.

Cognitive body image

This mirrors individuals’ thoughts and thinking about their body, leading to body shape and weight preoccupations.

Affective body image

This depicts how individuals feel about their bodies. Feelings may include satisfaction or disgust. Put simply; it is the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction they feel regarding their shape, weight, and body parts.

Behavioral body image

This refers to the behaviors individuals start engaging in due to their body image. When people are mostly dissatisfied with their looks, they may try to set themselves apart or follow unhealthy ways to change their looks and appearance.

Why are we so concerned about body image?

“Why don’t I look like this?”

“Why wasn’t I born with such a celebrity body?”

These are the most common interrogations many teens and even adults surround them with these days. We have this cultural obsession with our body’s appearance, and that’s why we pay more emphasis on how to improve physical appearance. From how to lose weight to how to surgically alter appearance using SPMUs, we google almost everything to get what… 

That very appearance many social media influencers are showing us. No wonder teens are thus more concerned about their looks, seemingly more than any past generation. 

Researchers have attempted to understand human concerns about their physical appearance and bodies. As aforementioned, body image is considered as feeling, perception, belief, and associated behavior befitting one’s own body, which includes not only negative body image but also positive body image. This is thus categorized as follows;

Body appreciation

When a person can accept, appreciate and respect their body, it is described as a positive body image that person is having. Accept it with all its beautiful flaws—positive body image is crucial since it is a protective trait that makes an individual less susceptible to developing and opting for unhealthy approaches. A positive body image is generally associated with the following;

Self-acceptance: makes a person less likely to be affected by unattainable and unnatural body images on social media. The individuals are more likely to feel comfortable and happy with their appearance; they admire themselves rather than fitting into the shapes of the societal presses around them to look perfect.

Stronger self-esteem: dictates how individuals feel about themselves in every aspect of life and contributes to contentment and well-being.

Healthier outlook and behaviors:  when individuals are in tune with and respond to their body’s needs, they tend to follow a healthier approach that entangles a balanced lifestyle and healthier practices relating to food and physical activity.


Body dissatisfaction

Body dissatisfaction steps in when someone has persistent negative feelings and thoughts about their body, how they look—I am not beautiful, I need to find a way to get that perfect body… 

Sadly, body dissatisfaction is an internal emotive and cognitive process influenced by our lifestyle. Many external factors, such as societal pressures to meet a certain appearance! Body dissatisfaction influences people to adopt unhealthy weight-control ways like disordered eating. And needless to say, instead of getting the most desired results, this mostly increases the risk of developing an eating disorder and unhealthy living practices, nothing else!

Social media; a fallacious mirror

I press the point – social media, especially Instagram, is that tainted mirror we must stop looking into if nothing helps!

I’ll tell you what exactly is happening to the normal human body on Instagram; 

Instagram is hyped due to the integration of smart algorithms; the constant exposure to perfect appearances caused by editing tools and filters impacts the body image of users, especially young adults. If you think about why everyone has that beautiful smooth skin, it is not; the liquified body, the filtered face, it is— which is not “real.”

On social media, this “Before-After” comparison is becoming more common than ever before. The developments in social media are insane; anyone can broadcast their entire life on social media without having to be talented or famous. That very prominent term, “Influencers’ emerged from this development!” 

A recent breed of celebrities who are probably amateur model-turned-brand ambassadors or lifestyle coaches and whatnot; their bio is utterly meaningless. Their online presence is doing nothing but drawing out body dysmorphia. Folks, “Instabod” or “instabody” is nothing; it’s just overemphasizing the body and looks taken to be the perfect body.

Love Yourself

Love your body, love yourself!

So all you have to do is love yourself for all aspects,  be it your belly, height, weight, or facial hair, and stop objectifying your body. You are a piece of art created beautifully. Every shape is beautiful without any “edits”!

What do you think?

Written by Vijeta Raghav

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